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.