What would you think if television and magazine reports made in-your-face comments about the fact that I have one real breast and a reconstructed one? A pretty atrocious thought, right? In the nearly one year since my mastectomy I assure your NO ONE has done that, nor do I suspect they will. Why, then, do we think it’s okay to make atrocious comments about female public figures with regard to their appearance?
It has been one week since Ashley Judd addressed the vicious attacks on her appearance. I have always like Ms. Judd’s skills on the camera. I think she is beautiful – the skin-deep kind that doesn’t need make up, fancy up-do’s, or designer labels. But I think now she is one of the MOST beautiful women in America. And one of the most courageous. Her voice has been heard above the clamor: who decides what’s beautiful and who gets to judge others’ beauty?
Remember the presidential campaign of 2008? No one ever made mention of Bill Clinton’s thighs when he ran for president in the 90′s. Yet his wife’s thighs were a topic of conversation for months. Here we are, four years later, still holding an obsession about public women’s appearances. It’s not only damaging to the women of today, it is having a disastrous affect on the girls following us. I know it’s not new. In many societies, it is the women who go out of their way (sometimes dangerously so) to adorn themselves in the name of beauty. But I’ve had enough!
Anna Holmes, a journalist for the Washington Post wrote,”Rapid-fire, image-based appraisals of women’s worth — what I call ‘objectify first, ask questions later’ — have become so commonplace that they are less exception than rule. Perhaps even more troubling, the instigators of such discussions seem either unaware or heedless that such assessments have real psychic consequences.”
These consequences damage on all levels, from women in their 90′s, whose inner beauty far surpasses any outer beauty, to young girls who look at the years ahead and already feel insignificant because they’re “not pretty enough.” While we fight the wars against terror and drugs and cancer, could we please fight a war against irrational criticism of women’s appearances too?
Where do we start? What do you think? Things get started because of the power of one baby. And Ashely Judd just became that one.