Monday, November 30, 2009

My Love/Hate Relationship with Victoria's Secret

By Brianna Savoca

My DVR is set to record the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show tomorrow night.

A package from Victoria's Secret just arrived via UPS with presents for my sister, girlfriends, and a few things for myself.

I spend way too much money than I should at Victoria's Secret. When it comes to bras, panties, PJs, and lounge wear, Victoria's Secret does it best. My loyalty lies with the brand, who year after year produces trendy and extremely fashionable clothing and under garments.

However, the imagery produced by Victoria's Secret contributes to many women feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable with their self-image. Victoria's Secret Angels and models are beautiful, picturesque creatures, but real women do not look like them. But, with the amount of commercials and advertisements on TV and in malls around the country, it is hard to avoid seeing these images and denying their effects.

Men goggle over the beautiful Victoria's Secret models. It's hard not to stare at these models with gorgeous faces and voluptuous figures. Men see these models who encapsulate all the ideals of beauty, who spark an intense sexual attraction. Then, when it comes to real women who they date, average women are not as stimulating or cannot compare based on these standards of beauty.

Victoria's Secret is basically soft-core porn for men, and since many women love the brand, it is hard to deny its appeal. However, there is no denying the objectification of Victoria's Secret models. They are viewed as bodies, perfect bodies nonetheless, but when have you ever heard the models speak about anything past the clothes (or lack there of) they have on.

That's my beef. While I object to the objectification of women, I cannot stop shopping at Victoria's Secret. Believe it or not, the store was actually created by a man to make it easier for husbands to shop for lingerie for their wives, so women were never really expected to shop at the store originally.

The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show premieres tomorrow night, December 1st at 10 PM on CBS.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beating the Holiday Bulge

A Constant Battle for Women in a Misogynist Society

By Brianna Savoca

With two Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday and Black Friday leftovers, like many women around the country, I found myself dreading to step on the scale following the weekend's food festivities.

It's no secret American's holiday traditions cause weight gain- the American Heart Association reports most people gain 5 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. More than likely, I will certainly be a part of this statistic.

When it came to stuffing, I did not skimp. Mounds of mashed potatoes, tons of turkey, and green bean casserole galore covered my plate in the afternoon and evening on Turkey Day, as we celebrated at my boyfriend's and my family's homes. Thank goodness we did not have to go for a third meal at my Dad's side of the family, as that may require purchasing a new wardrobe on Black Friday to accommodate the influx in my dress size.

Even though I did not stop myself from eating the traditional holiday dishes, I had to wonder- do men feel the same frustrations following Thanksgiving weekend? Do men feel as self-conscious stepping on a scale after gorging on turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes?

Based on a couple factors, I would conclude men do not feel the same pressures as women when it comes to weight.

First, typical gender roles create a strong difference in clothing styles for men versus women. Clothing styles for men fit looser, making it easier to disguise the belly bulge or thicker thighs after holiday meals. Women's clothing hugs the waist, fits tightly on the thighs, and makes it difficult to conceal extra flab from extra food.

Second, men brag about how much food they can consume, almost making an eating contest out of big meals. My male cousins competed to see who could stuff down more stuffing and eat more turkey than the others. The man who eats more holds bragging rights, and is essentially the Thanksgiving Champion of sorts. In comparison, most women try to conceal how much food they have even consumed during holiday meals, as stuffing your face is not quite "ladylike" behavior. Many women even turn down high caloric dishes, using excuses like, "It will go right to my hips," or "I won't fit into my clothes."

Third, based on "How to Beat the Holiday Bulge" articles found on many news websites, the advice seems mainly geared toward women, even in one American Heart Association article. One article says to wear a belt around the stomach or a tighter clothing in order to stop yourself from eating as much. Another article says to focus on making conversations rather than eating, or learning how to politely say no, advice geared toward women and feminine qualities.

Overall, women in our society seem to dread the holiday bulge more than men due to genderized pressures, cultural norms of weight, and society's beauty ideals. Men can hide weight gain under their clothing, whereas women are forced to conform to societies standards of beauty and weight.

While I did not succumb to the genderized pressures of starving myself to stay skinny over Thanksgiving weekend, I will give into the pressures of style, avoiding my tighter fitting clothes for the month of December. At least I have "Cyber Monday" to order a new wardrobe in the next size up.

Friday, November 13, 2009

First Asian Victoria's Secret Runway Model

After 32 Years, an Asian Model Finally Walks the VS Runway

By Brianna Savoca

Victoria's Secret puts something new out on the runway, and it is not a new push-up bra or rhinestone panty. For the first time since Victoria's Secret's inception in 1977, an Asian supermodel will walk the runway for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in December.

Liu Wen is one of five new models selected for the highly popular, nationally televised fashion show, and perhaps one of the new VS Angels.

The Angels promotional campaign was started 10 years ago, and shortly after Tyra Banks was the first African American to grace the cover of the Victoria's Secret Catalogue.

Apparently, Victoria's Secret decides to spice things up every 10 years, adding diverse models to the mix.

This year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show airs December 1 on CBS.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Leading Cause of Death in Women

WHO Conducts First Study of Women's Health
By Brianna Savoca

Heart disease used to be the number one killer of women, and despite the new "advice" to wait until age 50 for a mammogram, breast cancer is not sitting in the number one spot- AIDS is.

The World Health Organization conducted the first study of women's health around the globe and found AIDS is the leading killer among women between the ages of 15 and 44.

How high is the death count? One in five deaths among women in the age group above is linked to unsafe sex.

What the 91-page WHO report alluded to was the unequal health treatment women face throughout the course of their lives, especially in developing countries. In many parts of the world, women suffer serious disadvantages because of poverty, low access to health care, and cultural norms that benefit men's well-being over women, says WHO Chief Dr. Margaret Chan.

"We will not see a significant improvement in the health of women until they are no longer recognized as second-class citizens," says Dr. Chan.

While Dr. Chan makes a very valid point, it is truly surprising that the first study of global women's health just wrapped up in 2009, especially when the findings suggest many women's deaths could have been prevented if their partners had wrapped it up.

Pretty pathetic how patriarchy and politics seem to have prevented a study of women's health until 2009, while many lives were probably lost from AIDS in the process due to a lack of information or simply the money for condoms.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Racist Trending Topics on Twitter

By Brianna Savoca
On Wednesday morning, "#thingsdarkiessay" was the second highest treding topic on Twitter.
Thousands of tweets piled up by the minute, and by 10:30 AM, #thingsdarkiessay became the number one trending topic. By 11:00 AM, Twitter removed the hashtag #thingsdarkiessay from the trending topic list.

Reviewing the tweets on #thingsdarkiessay, many users claimed Things Darkies Say was a South African inside joke.

Things Darkies Say is not a joke to me. It is pure racism.

Humor used tastefully is enjoyable, funny, and enhances people's moods. Things Darkies Say is completely distasteful, unenjoyable, not funny in the least, and puts me in a angry, bitter, agitated mood.

Things Darkies Say is racism wearing a mask of humor.

Things Darkies Say perpetuates the negative stereotypes of the black race, especially with a duragatory word like "Darkies" in the title. Perpetuating stereotypical words and phrases like "massa," and "the darker the berry the sweeter the juice" shows a complete lack of respect for the black race.

Where is progress in South Africa? Many South Africans risked their lives to fight Apartheid, a legal system of racial segregation. Now some South Africans find it a funny joke to degrade the black race?

While South Africans claim Things Darkies Say is an inside joke, inside jokes do not work very well in a global, public forum like Twitter for all the world to read and judge.

My judgement rules against Things Darkies Say.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jon Gosselin: A Sexist, Immature Man, and Lackluster Father

By Brianna Savoca

After watching the Today Show's preview of the TLC "Kate: Her Story" special, I am blown away by Jon Gosselin's open sexism and stereotypical ideals.

The Today Show showed clips of a press conference held by Jon and celebrity Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Rabbi Boteach, just as sexist as Jon, blames Jon's behavior on being cooped up inside of the home with Kate and the kids.

It's not the man's place to be in the house changing diapers for two years, where the wife is expected to be, says Jon.

Jon must be such a big, strong man he cannot even handle changing diapers? Sorry Jon, you did not get to get out of the house and work an nine-to-five job. You got PAID to stay home and spend precious moments with your children on camera. Man or woman, most parents would love a gig like that.

Jon prefers partying out on the town in Ed Hardy t-shirts like he's a college student these days.

Put simply, Kate cared, Jon didn't. Kate picks up the pieces, emotionally breaking down in interviews. Yet many critics blame Kate as the bossy "bitch" who ruined the marriage. Kate had to boss Jon around because the man doesn't have a backbone.

Grow up Jon. Be a man. Quit blaming women for your immaturity and lack of respect for a hard-working, dedicated woman and mother. Just because the woman is the head of the family doesn't mean the family needs to end.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pretty Business

By Brianna Savoca

Just this week, CNN revamped its webpage. Launched over the weekend, CNN updated the site to make it more user-friendly.

While many people critiqued the new design’s positives and negatives for the world’s leading news website, website users left mostly positive comments about the new design on the CNN blog, complimenting the new look.

While CNN claims user-friendliness is the reason behind the redesign, user-friendliness translates into something bigger. CNN wanted the website to look better. CNN wanted its site to have a makeover. CNN wanted its site to be pretty.

With all the user comments, CNN received compliments and reinforcement that society appreciates good looks. CNN, and any smart business, knows society participates in the politics of pretty.

If products look better, more people will buy them. If a product gets a makeover, more people will pay attention and take notice.The politics of pretty play out in the business world in similar forms to this all the time. With the recession, many brands redesigned logos, boxes, wrappers, and advertisements to make their products more appealing.

Hence, the politics of pretty are present every time you decide to go into a store, make a purchase, or put food in your grocery cart. Put simply, who picks a bruised, spotted, disfigured apple over a shiny, red, unbruised, perfectly symmetrical apple?

And the politics of pretty in business just translates into the politics of pretty in society. Many people pick friends, associates, and significant others based on looks. Thus, businesses are extremely smart using pretty as a tactic towards consumers. People gauge what is desirable and make purchases based on their cognitive analysis of what looks best.

If it looks better to you, you will probably want it and perhaps buy it. In the least, you will pay attention to it. It’s pretty business, a somewhat petty business, but it works. The politics of pretty of everywhere, even on or in your grocery cart.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Girls Gone Wild

Wearing Fur and Animal Prints Objectifies Women

By Brianna Savoca

Zebra, cheetah, leopard, and crocodile prints flood retail stores around the country.

Fall fashion shows full of fur and leather clad models project the trending style of wearing animal-esque clothing.

However, these trends subconsciously convey the message women wearing animal prints and furs are animalistic in nature and behavior, and therefore lack intelligence and culture.

Common patriarchal beliefs use biology to justify the reason why women are oftentimes viewed as the lesser sex. By using this naturalistic perspective, when compared to men, women are closer to nature whereas men are the cultured sex.

Since women menstruate, have babies, and breast-feed, these natural processes often barricade them from participating in cultural activities. Typical gendered roles mean the man works, gets educated, and participates in society, and the woman stays home, raises children, and feeds the family since the husband provides the resources for her to do so.

With this stigma already commonly ingrained in society, does wearing fur or animal print help feminists cause to fight typical gender roles if it subconsciously relates women to animals?

Society needs to recognize women, no matter what type of clothing they wear, as intelligent human beings with brains. Women are not simply bodies. Women are not just objects or animals to be used for sex.

Unfortunately many of the images in fashion magazines or models walking down a runway seem to perpetuate this barbaric notion of women being the other, or the reproductive sex to be used by men. Women in fur or animal print draws upon these ideas women are simply sex animals.

Many strong, smart, intelligent women who carry themselves confidently wear fur or animal print, and the trend probably will not disappear anytime soon. If you think the idea of women wearing fur or animal print is too extreme, tell me this: When's the last time you've seen a man wearing fur boxers or a zebra thong for his woman?

Pretty Sports

Photogenic Athletes Pushed into Publicity and Past Truly Talented Athletes

By Brianna Savoca

Almost midway into the NFL season where Sundays are spent sprawled on the coach watching my beloved Browns.

I can’t help but notice the vast amount of number 10 jerseys still flooding the crowd.

Brady Quinn, official Browns poster boy and heartthrob for Browns ladies (and perhaps even some male fans), gets more face time on the sideline than any other player in the NFL for basically standing there and looking pretty.

After multiple attempts at starting quarterback, Quinn failed to prove himself or even score a single touchdown on offense. It was not until game four when Derek Anderson started against the Bengals for the Browns to finally reach the end zone.

Yet more Quinn jerseys sit on the sidelines than Anderson or, in my opinion, the truly talented and most capable Browns player Joshua Cribbs.

Is it because of looks? Does the general public buy more posters of dreadlocked Cribbs or Brady Quinn? Quinn, who has been compared to a GQ model outsells every Browns player poster-wise by a landslide. Add up the number of Cribbs jerseys sold and compare that to the number of Quinn jerseys. Quinn certainly wins.Cribbs even played quarterback versus the Steelers, gaining yards on offense for the Browns on top of the yards he runs himself as wide receiver and on punt return. Cribbs played in multiple Pro Bowls, fairly consistently returns punts at least 20 to 30 yards if not all the way to the end zone.

Cribbs proves time and again his talent on the gridiron. Quinn just proves he can sell jerseys and get women to watch the Browns.

Brady Quinn, a lackluster quarterback who has not shown much talent since high school, outsells and outshines the talented, reliable, yard-earning Josh Cribbs. Once again, superficialness seems to win over substance and talent.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What Nationalities Are You?

White-Checking In American Culture
By Brianna Savoca

Tune in to the typical dating show on MTV, and there seems to be an abundant question blind daters ask each other- "What nationalities are you?"

To be specific, this question is usually asked by stereotypically White blind daters to mainly White or possibly multi-racial individuals.

Personally, I have been asked this question by every person I have been on a date with. I have always dated White men, so I have to wonder what sparked their curiosity regarding my race. Oftentimes, I am asked if I am Asian in ethnicity, so this question never surprises me. Still, I have to wonder why my ethnicity makes a difference.

While it may sound primal, were the men I have dated White-checking a potential mate? Do all races race-check potential mates?

My definition of White-checking would be the behavior of Whites filtering Whites from non-Whites through a physical, social, and intellectual categorizing process to determine who is White, and therefore acceptable to socially interact with.

According to Critical Race Theorists, Whites often display White-checking behavior unknowingly because being "White" is the dominant form of behavior in our society. As Critical Race Theorist Charles Mills says, Whites are ignorant and do not see their privilege. Therefore, Americans live in a society infiltrated by White supremacy, so unless something is blatantly non-White, we accept it as normal.

This theory is further reinstated by Ian F. Henry Lopez, another Critical Race Theorist. Lopez says, "White supremacy makes Whiteness the normative model. Being the norm allows Whites to ignore race, except when they perceive race as intruding on their lives."

Why might someone feel White-checking is important, without even realizing they are white checking?

Lopez says Whites realize the benefits of being White on a subconscious level, and Whites recognize the burdens of being Black or non-White. Therefore, on an animalistic and simple logical reasoning level, Whites would want their children to be White and receive the same benefits.

Is this the right mentality? Is the behavior of White-checking racist? Does anyone have examples of White-checking or race-checking in relationships?

While this may sound extremely barbaric, doesn't breeding White with Whites, Black with Blacks, etc. perpetuate the systems of dominance and oppression, as well as maintain White supremacy in our society? Would increased inter-breeding solve the problem?

Lopez and Mills both offer solutions to racism has a whole.

Mills believes Whites need to be aware and informed of the "Racial Contract" and the privileges they receive simply for being White and the oppressive repercussions of White privilege. After being fully informed, Whites can choose to decline White privilege or embrace it, thus perpetuating racism.

Lopez suggests dismantling Whiteness as a solution to racism. Lopez says if Whites must be cognizant of their daily actions and privilege, recognize the consequences of giving up their privileges, and then must embark on a daily process of choosing against Whiteness.

Is there a solution to racism? Perhaps one small step would be to end White-checking, and the perpetuation of White supremacy. Instead of worrying about the race of your significant other, maybe it would be better to focus on their personality, intelligence, and whether or not you can have a time-withstanding relationship without ending in a bitter divorce.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coffee Talk

Making Connections or Breeding Insecurities?
By Brianna Savoca

Weekend mornings in the crisp, fall weather of the Midwest brews the perfect excuse for women to gather at local coffee shops. Sipping on lattes and espresso, women chatter about girlfriends, family, work, school, and men.

I participated in this ritual this morning, with a girlfriend in from out-of-town for Ohio University's Homecoming weekend.

As I waited in line for my pumpkin pie chai latte, I couldn't help but notice all the cliques of women gathered at tables in pairs, threesomes, and foursomes, in "Sex & the City"
fashion. Some women spoke animatedly, hashing out stories from the night before. Some women sat listening and engaged in the conversation. Some women had smiles, while many women had lines of worry etched across their faces.
This got me thinking. Do our conversations at coffee shops strengthen our bonds with girlfriends, or do they cause insecurities to flourish in the compare and contrast nature of our conversations?

My girlfriend and I pleasantly bantered about our current job situations, men, and girlfriends we had not spoken to in a while. Our conversation was full of updates and sharing news.

However, I could not help but notice the women next to us seemed to has a much different atmosphere at their table. Waiting for my girlfriend who went to get her coffee, I overheard some of their conversation.

One woman in particular seemed frustrated, crossing her arms and rolling her eyes as a poised woman spoke enthusiastically about her successful date. When the aggravated woman blurted out, "We know your life is perfect." The other woman reassured her that her luck would change and not to worry.

But people do worry. Saying not to worry almost encourages a person to worry more. Plus, the look on the woman's face clearly showed her worries were not eased by her friend's reassurance.

Here are my questions: Women watch shows like "Sex & the City," where girlfriends meet up for friendly conversations and update each other on their lives. However, do we benefit from these conversations? Or do we leave feeling more hopeless than before? Does it all depend on the day? Are some girlfriends better coffee-mates than others?

My coffee date left me feeling fulfilled and happy, since I got to meet up with my girlfriend who I had not seen in a while. Overall, I enjoy my coffee dates with my girlfriends.

I just hope they all leave not only feeling perked up by the caffeine, but also perked up by light-hearted conversation and our common bond as girlfriends.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Beautiful You

Jonny Diaz Song Spreads Positive Message to Women & Girls
By Brianna Savoca

Finally, a refreshing song played on my radio today while driving around Athens, Ohio. With a catchy melody and positive lyrics, the chorus rang in my head over and over again, so I googled the song later at my apartment.

Jonny Diaz, the artist behind the song "More Beautiful You," sings about how no matter what beauty routine women think they need or how being with a man may make them feel complete, they are simply beautiful on their own. Straight from the lyrics, Diaz says, "There will never be a more beautiful you."

I've been playing this song all night. The lyrics really struck a chord with me, and the song has great potential to be an anthem for women everywhere.

I really have to let this song speak for itself. Click HERE for the music video on YouTube.

The lyrics are listed below:

More Beautiful You

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine

Says she wants to look that way

But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake

And she’s always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen

I wish that you could see

That beauty is within your heart

And you were made with such care

Your skin your body and your hair

Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you

Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through

You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do

So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one

The things that you’ve already done

Anything to get ahead

And you say you’ve got a man but he’s got another plan

Only wants what you will do instead

Well little girl twenty-one

You never thought that this would come

You starve yourself to play the part

But I can promise you there’s a man whose love is true

And he’ll treat you like the jewel you are

So turn around you’re not too far

To back away be who you are

To change your path go another way

It’s not too late you can be saved

If you feel depressed with past regrets

The shameful nights hope to forget

Can disappear they can all be washed away

By the one who’s strong can right your wrongs

Can rid your fears dry all your tears

And change the way you look at this big world

He will take your dark distorted view

And with His light He will show you truth

And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl