Posts Tagged ‘Cheerleaders’

When plus size company Lane Bryant’s sexy TV ad was supposedly censored by ABC as inappropriate for “Dancing With the Stars” audiences, there were calls of hypocrisy. After all, TV networks don’t seem to have an issue showing lingerie ads for Victoria’s Secret (or even the much touted half naked extravaganza ‘Victoria’s Secret Special.”) Still, TV executives seemed to feel that fat girls shouldn’t show cleavage. Ironic, since big girls are more likely to have big breasts, but I guess natural is what’s offensive here.

Lane Bryant TV commercialABC is now denying it ever censored the ad. Lane Bryant still claims the ad was censored. Either way, I’m having trouble leaping on the feminist band wagon burning up the blogosphere defending this commercial and demanding it be aired. Fat women should be allowed to be objectified too, dammit! 

I had the same negative reaction when Mo’Nique hosted a fat girl beauty contest for TV. I didn’t think it was so awesome that large women were gaining entry into the world of the skinny, finally allowed to compete against each other so a panel of judges could decide who was the prettiest.

I was also bummed when “High School Musical” featured a fat cheerleader and everyone called that progressive and “so PC.” Cheerleaders are just bad for women. I don’t care if they’re fat or of color or have athletic skill. Being a cheerleader is the definition of being the sideshow, her role is to make the main event look good; she is not and never will be the star. Cheerleader obsession is like teen training ground for the perfect heterosexual relationship; it’s like wife school. The hot girl cheers on her talented guy, standing by her quarterback, loyally, faithfully, whether he wins or loses; her admiration is constant and her love is true.

Another recent example of fake feminist progress is Angelina Jolie’s much touted role Salt, originally written “for a guy,” a guy like Tom Cruise! Scott Mendelson wrote about EW’s self congratulatory cover story on how progressive the movie is on his blog. Mendelson has this quote from EW:

“In the original script, there was a huge sequence where Edwin Salt (the original male protagonist) saves his wife, who’s in danger,” says Noyce. “And what we found in the new script, it seemed to castrate his character a little. So we had to change the nature of that relationship.”

Mendelson writes:

So, hidden in an article on how “Salt” is oh-so-empowering for female action heroes is this tidbit. The filmmakers believe that it was perfectly OK for the spouse to be rescued from mortal danger if said love interest was a girl, but not if the romantic partner was a man. Apparently, it’s great if the action hero is a girl, as long as she doesn’t have the opportunity to one-up any male counterparts or reverse the oldest cliche in the action-film handbook.

What a bummer. The supposedly feminist “Salt” remains safely within the gender boundaries of every classic Disney movie, and is it even possible to be “a little castrated?”

Update: Jezebel posts a leaked memo from ABC to Lane Bryant, showing that, contrary to its claims, the network did refuse to air the ad.

Second update: To the offended commenters, just like I tell my six year old, “fat” is not a bad word! Nor is “large” nor is “chubby.” People who are upset I used the word “fat” to describe the plus size model in the photo are reinforcing the values of a society that thinks one woman’s size is so preferable to another’s. And yes, of course size is relative, as is height, weight, age etc. Compared to certain groups of people, in various societies, the Lane Bryant model would not be fat or plus size.

Third update: Ashley Grant, the Lane Bryant model, says on ET she thinks her breasts were too big, bigger than the Victoria’s Secret models and that’s why her ad was censored.

I don’t watch “Dancing with the Stars” but seeing the clips on my TV right now, the costumes on those women look like my three year old got near them with her scissors; they’re missing whole sections.

While I was posting this story last night, Joy Behar was on TV with Pamela Anderson as a guest, showing clips of half dressed Pam doing splits, again and again, over her dance partner. If ABC censored big breasts during its cartoon hour, that would be one thing, but during “Dancing With the Stars” gives a whole new meaning to the term “double standard.”

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Are women athletes celebrated more for what they can do or for how they look? Here’s a photo of Winter Olympics 2010 silver medal winner in Ladies Super Combined, Julia Mancuso. Have women athletes made any progress winning endorsements, acclaim, recognition, and money for their skill rather than their appearance? Here’s something I wrote about Summer Olympics 2000 and the state of female athletes that was reprinted in a bunch of papers. Tell me what you think about how we’re doing now.

SAN FRANCISCO — In the photo she’s wearing a tight two-piece suit. Legs parted, head thrown back, eyes closed, she smiles.

The woman is not a Playmate of the Month but Olympic high jumper Amy Acuff in Esquire magazine’s cover story/pictorial entitled “America’s Ten Sexiest Athletes.” But on closer examination, Amy is not lying down; she is jumping.

A perusal of recent issues of men’s magazines reveals the latest sex symbol is the female athlete.

Sports Illustrated features Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson topless with her hands covering her breasts. And Gear has a photo of the Australian women’s soccer team, all players completely naked with their arms and legs placed strategically.

It’s no coincidence that this fascination with women athletes as soft-core porn stars comes right as women are making enormous strides in achieving parity with men in the Olympics. One step forward, two long jumps back.

At the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, more women will compete in more sports with more media coverage than ever before. With 4,400 participants, women will represent a record 42 percent of the competitors. Most exciting, women will be competing in what were once exclusively male domains. New categories for women include weightlifting, pole vaulting, water polo, tae kwon do and the triathlon.

But the slew of wet T-shirt pictorials reveals a powerful cultural bias. The American public is still uncomfortable seeing women as successful athletes and celebrating them for embodying the qualities that athletes possess. Magazines like Maxim are undermining hard-won progress by reducing all female competition to just another beauty contest.

Athletes are valued for what their bodies can do, not how they look.

Athletes are competitive, ambitious and they know how to win, but those attributes just aren’t ladylike. Photographing sports superstars in lace panties and sheer camisoles keeps them safely inside the parameters of womanhood.

While girls learn early on they will be judged for their looks, boys learn that athleticism equals attractiveness. Ever since high school, the jocks were the big men on campus, a guy’s skill made him hot and the best player sealed his status by getting the prettiest girl.

The grown-up world isn’t much better. Male athletes are worshipped for their achievements. Joe DiMaggio won Marilyn Monroe, and that wasn’t because he looked good in his uniform.

For women, athletic skill doesn’t equal desirability. In a capitalist world, the girl with the most money wins. Blond and buxom tennis star Anna Kournikova makes $11 million to $15 million in endorsements, though she has never won a professional tournament. Her earnings equal those of Martina Hingis, who has earned her money by winning 26 career titles, and are much more than 43-time winner Monica Seles’ $7.5 million or defending U.S. Open champ Serena Williams’ $6 million.

Even a pretty female player isn’t valued like a male player. Tiger Woods gets $47 million; Michael Jordan, $40 million, and 70-year-old Arnold Palmer makes $19 million.

The excuse is that men make big money because their sports make more money from television contracts, but it’s all a vicious circle. When women aren’t valued for their skills, aren’t trained properly and aren’t celebrated the way male athletes are, they’re at a severe disadvantage.

While many call this just bad luck, the law calls it illegal. More than 20 years ago, Title IX, which demanded gender equity in sports funding, began to be enforced. A generation of women growing up under it is a major reason why female athletes have been able to make the advances they have.

Even with this law, females make up only one third of interscholastic and intercollegiate athletes.

Summer 2000’s gold medal favorite, Stacy Dragila, was once told women don’t have the upper body strength to pole vault. Today, pole vaulting is the most popular new women’s event, with Dragila holding the world record.

For reaching that record last summer, Dragila got only half the $60,000 prize money that men get for the same competition. But, she was able to generate more income and media coverage for her sport by posing with other track and field women for a sexy calendar.

Athletics should be the one place where there truly is a meritocracy, where women are rewarded for how high they can jump, how fast they can run or how much they can lift. But once again, the rules are different for women.

This summer, along with their shotputs and discuses, female Olympic competitors will need lipstick, good lighting and lingerie if they want to get the gold.

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Cheerladers are bad. There’s no other way to say it. I don’t care if they’re of color or fat or have athletic skill. Being a cheerleader means you’re the sideshow, your role is to make the main event look good; you are not and never will be the star.

Witnessing the archetype blonde haired, blue eyed, super skinny cheerleader transform to allow more diversty in movies like High School Musical only makes me sad; it’s like when Mo’ Nique hosted a reality show on a fat girl beauty contest, or when there was an African-American model on the cover of Vogue and Anna Wintour wrote a self-congratulatory Letter From the Editor about it. Is it progress that women of color get to be anorexic too? Or that fat women are allowed to compete against each other so that a panel of judges can decide who is the prettiest?

The big problem with the cheerleader role is that it serves as a teen training ground for the model of the perfect heterosexual relationship; it’s like wife school. The hot girl cheers on her talented guy, standing by her quarterback, loyally, faithfully, whether he wins or loses; her admiration is constant and her love is true.

Who doesn’t have fantasy about her partner being totally focused on her, sticking around no matter what, celebrating when she does well, cheering her up every time she’s down? We all want that. But men, the guys in power, got to actually create that reality for themselves and reproduce it everywhere.

If you watched any of the superbowl, you likely saw dueling couples: former Playboy bunny Kendra Baskett with her Indianoplois Colt husband, Hank Baskett, versus Playboy model Kim Kardashian, girlfriend of Saint, Reggie Bush. Kim proudly flashed her nails for the cameras, painted with Reggie’s name and his number, 25. Rumor has it that if  Bush won, he would propose, making Kardashian a real life trophy wife.

Maybe cheerleaders will be Ok with me when there are all male squads who rally on the pro-women teams at giant sporting events watched all over the world; when those guys are considered a catch, the hyper-sexual mates for the celebrated women athletes. I wonder if Kim can play soccer?

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