If You’re Going to Advertise Plus-Size Tights, Hire Plus-Size Models

Source: Wish.com

While society pretends it’s become more body positive, encouraging women to “love their curves” at every turn, actions continue to speak louder than words. Just because clothing retailers cater to those deemed plus-size by the fashion industry doesn’t mean they remain sensitive to this marginalized group’s wants or needs.

Wish.com, for instance, has come under fire for its recent advertisement featuring plus-size tights. The site, which sells inexpensive products directly to consumers from Chinese manufacturers, offers $2 tights that come in black or nude. But it’s how these “Plus Size Ultra Elastic Tights Stockings Women Sexy Shaping Pantyhose Socks” are displayed that’s causing quite the controversy.

Every image shows slim models stretching the tights up and over their petite frames in what one can only assume is the retailer’s attempt at demonstrating the product’s size.

Except the execution couldn’t be any more offensive.

While most of the images show the models pulling the material up around their shoulders or over their face, another shows the model standing inside one leg, presumably to demonstrate how far the product can stretch without running or ripping.

Source: Wish.com

“What is the point they are trying to make here? That our thunder thighs are so big that their model can fit her entire body into a pair of our tights?” said Cosmopolitan UK fashion and beauty writer Laura Capon. “Round of applause for her, well bloody done. Now do you want me to model a pair or “regular” tights by wearing them on my finger?”

It’s unclear as to whose tone-deaf brainchild this was — Wish.com has declined to comment to multiple media outlets about the images in question — but it’s blatantly obvious that the mastermind behind this shameful concept has no regard for the feelings of those who wear anything larger than a size eight.

If the company wants to sell plus-size clothing and accessories, why not appeal to said demographic by hiring plus-size women to model the products? Many would agree such a strategy sounds like common sense, but if that were the case, Twitter wouldn’t be up in arms over this subtle sort of body shaming—and rightfully so.

According to social media, Wish.com might’ve lifted the images from ads for “magic tights” that were designed to withstand any condition without tearing. Regardless of the circumstances, Wish.com made the decision to attribute these photos to the sale of plus-size tights, which deserves the subsequent outpouring of disgust. While the models themselves might be innocent, the site itself must be held accountable.

There are countless ways to body shame people without calling them out explicitly, and this instance fits those criteria perfectly. Wish.com had the opportunity to embrace the plus-size community and employ models that might otherwise struggle in a fashion industry that has yet to truly embrace women who don’t fit the mold society’s created. Instead, the retailer chose to send its target market running in the opposite direction. Without an apology, Wish.com will only reinforce the assumption that it doesn’t approve of these women’s bodies, and that’s the quickest way to alienate any and every shopper with an ounce of decency and compassion for their fellow humans.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

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Geraldo Rivera Can’t Comprehend the Difference Between Flirtation and Assault

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ever since the New York Times and the New Yorker unearthed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long history of sexual assault and harassment, the deluge of accusations against other prominent men continues to dominate the 24-hour news cycle. Every day, another public figure comes under fire for past behaviors they likely thought would never come to light. Although somewhat shocking, TV host Matt Lauer’s “inappropriate sexual behavior” probably won’t be the last revelation to flow from this widespread wave of accountability.

But, as such allegations are revealed, the public must also grapple with the naysayers — those who choose to believe the accused over the accuser. In response to Lauer’s scandal, for instance, Geraldo Rivera took to Twitter to show support for his longtime friend. Rivera defended Lauer by claiming that “news is a flirty business” and that the “current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation.”

However, Rivera then contradicted his prior tweet by asserting sexual harassment “should be confined to situations where superior imposes himself on subordinate who feels unable to complain because of power of perp or feared consequences to victim’s employment.”

If both of Rivera’s tweets are meant to support each other, as one would assume, then his stance implies that the allegations against Lauer are merely playful. However, most will agree that Lauer’s lewd actions — which include summoning women to his office for sex and exposing his genitalia to female colleagues — does not, in any way, constitute flirtation. Rivera seems to have misplaced his dictionary, if that’s the case.

For reference, here’s a vocabulary lesson:

flir·ta·tion: (noun) behavior that demonstrates a playful sexual attraction to someone.

sex·u·al ha·rass·ment: (noun) aggressive pressure or intimidation (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.

Rivera’s perspective, however, comes from a position of power. As a 74-year-old man in a male-dominated industry, he’s been the accused, but never the accuser. (Bette Midler, for example, claimed Rivera groped her during her 1991 interview with Barbara Walters.) It’s easy for someone in his shoes to prescribe how the law should work because, historically speaking, the law usually favors men — particularly those whose money equates to clout.

Only someone who’s never been victimized — who’s never faced the physical and emotional aftermath of such an encounter — would suggest this approach to obtaining justice. Forcing women to come forward in an orderly, timely fashion, with evidence in tow, puts the burden on the victim, which is why so many women refuse to report the incident in the first place.

Victims must struggle with the shame and fear that often comes along with assault and harassment. Not only must they worry about retaliation, but they must also consider what it’ll be like to recount the experience and have their name dragged through the mud as the accused attempts to discredit their reputation. For those who are suffering, there’s never an easy path forward.

Thankfully, Rivera’s comments have come under scrutiny. Fox News, where Rivera has served as roaming correspondent since 2001, issued a statement regarding Rivera’s tweets, telling Entertainment Weekly that “Geraldo’s tweets do not reflect the views of Fox News or its management. We were troubled by his comments and are addressing them with him.”

Twitter users have also responded in kind, tearing Rivera’s logic to shreds.

While everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, implying that these victims are merely jilted lovers seeking payouts as retribution for rejection undermines the strength these women demonstrate by coming forward and sharing their stories. Rivera’s position further perpetuates the culture that’s kept these women quiet for so long. We must continue to shut down any and all deniers in order to maintain society’s newfound willingness to listen to — and believe — the women who’ve been wronged by men who wield their power as their primary weapon against culpability.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Tracee Ellis Ross Empowers Women to Live Life According to Their Own Rules

Source: Essence

While Tracee Ellis Ross plays the mother of five on ABC’s Black-ish, the actress herself lives an entirely different life.

“It’s really interesting to be a woman and to get to 45 and not be married and not have kids,” Ross said as she began her now viral speech at Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit last week. “Especially when you’ve just pushed out your fifth kid on TV.”

During her 11-minute speech, Ross detailed how society treats women who remain single and childless, and how cultural expectations diminish our gender for not conforming. Drawing from personal experience, Ross explored how ambition doesn’t always align with the so-called norm.

“I grew up planning a wedding… But I also dreamed of winning an Oscar and being on the cover of magazines and making a difference in the world — helping women find our voices. And from that dreaming, I have built an incredible life. I have become a woman that I am proud to be,” she said.

“And then someone tells me about their friend who adopted a child at 52 and how ‘it’s never too late for your life to have meaning,’ and my worth gets diminished as I am reminded that I have ‘failed’ on the marriage and carriage counts. Me! This bold, liberated, independent woman,” she said. “I’m killing it! So, why? Why do I get snagged this way? As if all that I have done and who I am doesn’t matter.”

She explained that society constantly tells young girls and women that “being chosen and having kids” are the end goals for anyone who wishes to lead a meaningful life. In her words, “husband plus child equals woman.” We aren’t complete unless someone deems us worthy of their love and progeny.

Source: Good Housekeeping

But with four simple words, Ross realized that, despite her success, she was still being sucked in by societal influence.

“I’m sitting there free writing, maybe conversing with my inner child, and I write down: MY LIFE IS MINE. My life is mine,” she said. “Those words stopped me in my tracks and honestly brought so many tears to my eyes. Seems so obvious, but obviously it wasn’t. Because I have NOT been living my life as if it was my own… I have to put myself first and not be looking for permission to do so.”

Ross continued by explaining that, when women speak out or stand up, they’re condemned for being themselves. Women are regularly persecuted for stepping outside the accepted bubble of womanhood because the patriarchy feels threatened by those who don’t follow the “rules” their forefathers set in place. But, as Ross said, she’s going to have to break an agreement that she never officially agreed to in the first place.

“That agreement says: We are here to be of service to others, that our destiny is to live in the shadow of men. That we are simply objects of desire, and that we are willing to live with having our voices stifled again and again by the misogyny of our culture.”

Instead, Ross promised to her reality and her dreams and let those elements be her guide as she navigates her individual life. In the same breath, she invited the women in the crowd to do the same.

“Join me for a moment and imagine: What would it be like for women to completely own our own power, to have agency over our own glory and our sexuality, not in order to create a product or to sell it, or to feel worthy of love, or use it as a tool for safety, but instead as a WAY OF BEING?” she asked the audience.

Women need to stop thinking of themselves in respect to others around them. We must focus on who we are inside in order to understand who we are to the outside world. We were not put on this earth to please anyone but ourselves. We owe the men of the world nothing and, with Ross’s words echoing among us, we must recognize that we have countless allies who believe we’re worthwhile because of who we are, not who we love.

There’s nothing wrong with following the traditional path — the one paved long ago that says we should make stops only to pursue marriage and family. But we cannot chastise those who choose to forge their own road through the fields and forests that line the way.

Life isn’t linear. We’re all meandering along in some way or another. You zig. I’ll zag. If we meet again along the way, at least we will do so knowing that we were our brave selves, as Ross said. Our whole selves. The complete, real, true people we were always meant to be.

Read Ross’s full speech here or watch the entire presentation below:

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

For Feminist Fashionistas, Has Modesty Become the Best Policy?

Source: Unsplash

When it comes to gender politics within the fashion industry, equality is only as deep as the pockets on your average pair of skinny jeans. Designers continue to break down barriers dictated by the gender binary. However, the persistent pocket disparity — men’s apparel features many spacious compartments, while most women’s styles don’t have any at all — demonstrates that when creating women’s clothing, form still outweighs function, highlighting the latent sexism that remains.

However, as the decade wears on, one specific trend has begun to emerge, indicating that women might be hoping to reclaim comfort and promote feminism simultaneously.

According to The New York Times’ recent feature, modesty has made its triumphant return. Vanessa Friedman writes that long sleeves and ankle-length hemlines now dominate the industry because, as we move into the last years of this decade, fashion now serves as the surrogate for our social and political discontent. Friedman explains that “clothes are an integral part of the debate over the freedom to make your own choices — whether about what you do with your body or who touches your body or what you put on your body.” Clothing still acts as an alternative mouthpiece, much like it has throughout history, except its message has changed dramatically thanks to the current state of affairs.

Source: Getty Images

Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the innovation group at J. Walter Thompson, tells Friedman that the emerging trends exist in an effort to “reject the strictures of the male gaze.” While women once saw plunging necklines and transparent fabrics as vessels for embracing their sexuality, they’ve come to recognize that such styles ultimately put them on display in ways that contradict their underlying intentions.

“They are not about what men want anymore, but about what women want,” Greene adds. After years of embracing styles spawned by the male libido, women are opting for clothes that cater to comfort and security. Because, while comfort supports increased confidence, security provides strength in an era where women are still perceived as weak and inferior.

By gravitating toward modest styles, women are taking their bodies back. From Hillary Clinton’s symbolic suffragette white pantsuits, to the pussycat hats of the Women’s March on Washington, women’s clothing needs no comment for these choices speak for themselves. Fashion statements abound, but not in the ways we’ve come to expect. Instead of waiting for the next red carpet blunder or wardrobe malfunction, women now feel both fashionable and comfortable as they trade their crop tops for button downs.

Source: Getty Images

As Michael Kors, the esteemed designer, told The New York Times, he’s “convinced that there is something far more alluring about women wearing things that give them confidence, that don’t make them feel as if they have to tug at their hemlines or yank at their straps.”

While some women dress to impress men, and others dress to impress their female peers, many now focus solely on dressing for their own benefit. They’ve replaced their high heels with ballet flats because they regain balance both literally and figuratively when they’re on solid ground. They’ve traded their mini dresses for pencil skirts because they no longer feel they must flaunt their sexuality in order to command their femininity. Of course, while no woman should feel compelled to conceal her body because she fears the advances of predatory men, modest styles promise to empower women to be who they are, not who others wish them to be.

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(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Amy Schumer’s Beach Body Isn’t Up for Discussion

Source: InStyle Magazine

Body shamers typically emerge from their turtlenecks around this time of year. They shed their down parkas and fur-lined boots just in time to judge those who feel comfortable in their own skin. Dana Duggan, swimsuit designer for South Shore Swimwear, started the season off with a splash when she decided to attack Amy Schumer’s recent swim-inspired InStyle magazine spread. Duggan took to the publication’s Instagram account to publicly voice her ugly opinion regarding May’s “beauty issue” cover model.

“Come on now! You could not find anyone better for this cover? Not everyone should be in a swimsuit,” Duggan wrote under the guise of her swimwear brand, no less.

Schumer appears on the cover wearing a white, one-piece Ralph Lauren swimsuit, and it’s not hard to see that she’s looking her best and loving her life from that image alone. Duggan’s comment, however, contradicts the issue’s overall message by fixating on the fact that Schumer—like most American women—isn’t your average model. Many followers responded by reminding Duggan that Schumer’s a real woman with a real body, and that bodies of all shapes and sizes are beautiful in their own way. Unlike traditional models, Schumer represents the everywoman, and that’s refreshing to see in today’s sea of size 2s. Her confidence demonstrates that women don’t have to be stick-thin to be gorgeous. She’s beautiful without feeling the need to conform to society’s preconceived notions of perfection.

While Duggan went on to defend her claims that Schumer looks “like a pig” by citing the first amendment, she also told The Huffington Post that she’s “tired of the media and publications trying to push the FAT agenda. It’s not healthy and it’s not pretty. What is wrong with featuring healthy and fit cover models?”

But it’s in that statement alone that she proves her opinions are motivated by nothing more than pure ignorance. She cannot assess Schumer’s health from this or any image, and she cannot claim this cover supports the so-called “fat” agenda when Schumer’s size 6-8 frame doesn’t even come close to the average American woman’s dress size. (Hint: It’s 16.) We’ve cultivated an acidic attitude toward female body image that’s permeated our society to its core.

Many believe women should maintain an unattainable visual aesthetic in order to satisfy the public’s gaze. Even though much has changed in recent years, such societal pressures still remain.

Luckily, thanks to magazine covers and other such public displays of defiance, we now see images that reinforce the idea that beauty isn’t only skin deep. We now praise women for their actions, not their appearance. And those who still face judgment over their looks no longer back down in the face of criticism. Instead, they stand up for themselves and for others in an effort to command the respect they deserve.

True beauty lies with our diversity, but we are still too stuck on conformity to recognize the best of what’s before us. Perhaps, if we’re constantly confronted with cover models that look more like Schumer, we will finally come to see and accept the beauty already in our midst.

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(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

When Empowering Young Girls, Actions Speak Louder Than T-Shirts

“Girl Power” isn’t some new concept—just ask the Spice Girls. But it’s certainly gained new momentum since the 2016 presidential election, as Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss to Donald Trump stunned the nation. In an era where unqualified misogynists can still gain the upper hand, it’s become increasingly important to teach young girls to go high even when “the man” tries to drag them low.

Yet, while our overall efforts are commendable, we need to take things to the next level. We need to stop talking and start doing.

Source: The Children’s Place

Source: The Children’s Place

Recently, The Children’s Place made an admirable attempt to bring girl power to the elementary set with an empowering line of feminist tees and tanks. Each piece features words and images that aim to bridge the otherwise glittery gender gap. They encourage girls to pursue male-dominated professions and forge their own path to success. Much like the inspirational quotes that litter Instagram, however, reciting such mantras and living their truth are two entirely different animals.

We can dress our daughters and nieces in pantsuits from the minute they’re born, and shout daily affirmations into the void the second they learn to speak, but our behavior will mean nothing if we don’t occupy these positions of power ourselves. Like those of minority races and religions, seeing yourself in the eyes of someone else helps you envision your own potential. We need to present young girls with role models that bring these ambitions to life. We need to be the women they look up to when they seek guidance.

Shirts may boost their confidence, but they’ll only learn to lead if they have worthwhile examples to follow.

Just as Hillary Clinton emphasized during her speech last week, change will only come if we get involved now—resist, insist, persist, enlist.

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(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Will We Ever Close the Gender Pay Gap?

openingremarks26__01a__630x420By 2020, the U.S. Treasury expects to replace Alexander Hamilton’s spot on the $10 bill with the face of an unidentified woman. But, as The Daily Show correspondent, Jessica Williams, highlighted during an episode of the Comedy Central news program, this gesture seems like an ineffective, and relatively pathetic, attempt to appease female critics. “Honestly, at the end of the day, I don’t [care] about who’s on the bill. What I do care about is getting an equal share of the bill. I’d rather have 10 full Hamilton dollars than $8.45 of lady bucks,” Williams noted.

But, as most understand, equal signs and dollar signs rarely align when it comes to median annual income across the country. According to one recent report by the American Association of University Women, the gender wage gap has made some strides over the last 40 years. In 1973, women made 57 cents for every man’s dollar, but as of 2013, women now make 78 cents for every man’s dollar.

While these figures illustrate significant progress, there’s still much to be done. As of 2013, male median income averaged $50,033 per year, while women earned only $39,157 per year. Younger women, ages 20-24, currently earn an average 90 cents for every man’s dollar, which also signals potential progress, but by age 35, median income growth slows considerably for female employees, as they earn only 75-80 cents for every man’s dollar until they reach retirement. Many cite educational and experiential differences as primary drivers behind such disparities, but even when both factors are comparable, the gap still persists. For women of color, these disparities are even worse.

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