Bleats

Jameela Jamil Wants Airbrushing In Ads To Be Made Illegal But It's Only Part Of A Much Bigger Problem

Tahani would probably disagree.

Jameela Jamil, AKA Tahani on The Good Place, wrote an opinion piece for the BBC over the weekend in which she explained why she thinks airbrushing, particularly in ads, should be made illegal.

She writes,

“I think it’s a disgusting tool that has been weaponised, predominantly against women, and is responsible for so many more problems than we realise because we are blinded by the media, our culture and our society.”

Her reasons for banning airbrushing are:

  1. It misleads consumers – if you buy a product because the person in the ad supposedly looks the way they do because of the product, you’re bound to be disappointed when you realise they’ve been airbrushed
  2. It’s bad for the person being photographed – she explains, “If you see a digitally ‘enhanced’ picture of yourself, you run the risk of becoming acclimatised to that level of flawlessness and it makes it harder for you to accept your actual image”
  3. It’s bad for the public, especially young women, who are vulnerable to body image issues and things like eating and body image disorders

In a follow-up tweet, Jamil highlights the double standards discussed in her article. Men’s flaws are less likely to be airbrushed away, while women are airbrushed within an inch of their lives to look as young and flawless as possible.

 

There have been many memorable airbrushing fails over the years, including the time GQ Mexico airbrushed out Chrissy Teigen’s nipples:

Or the time a magazine gifted Oprah with an extra hand:

Or the time Jezebel acquired unretouched photos of Lena Dunham from her shoot for Vogue:

(If you’re obsessed with celebrity retouching disasters, follow CelebFace on Instagram.)

The worst thing about airbrushing photos of celebrities is that they’re already thinner and more beautiful than the average person, so what message does it send when even their natural looks aren’t deemed ‘good enough’?

Jamil makes a pretty standard feminist argument against airbrushing, and she raises some good points. What she doesn’t do is explain why she feels this is something the law needs to be involved with – criminalisation is a pretty extreme response to something that could probably be dealt with through proper media regulations, and requirements for disclaimers when advertisements and magazines do use airbrushing.

It also only addresses one part of the issue. Young girls can be affected by what they see in magazines and on television, but airbrushing isn’t the only thing that has negative effects. Constantly and exclusively seeing depictions of incredibly thin and gorgeous women (like Jamil herself) who have a team of hair and makeup artists to make them look as good as possible before they leave the house can’t be good for anyone’s self-esteem, either.

Nor can things like the Victoria’s Secret fashion show that celebrate a very narrow body ideal and deliberately exclude anyone who falls outside of that. Or jokes made at the expense of fat people that crop up in almost every single comedy show, because they’re so normalised that nobody thinks twice about making them.

Letting female celebrities look more like themselves in photoshoots and on magazine covers would be a great start to combatting the plethora of problems contributing to young women’s body image issues. But the buck doesn’t stop with photo retouchers: it should include makeup artists, facialists, dermatologists, personal trainers, and plastic surgeons, too.

Entire industries rely on women hating their bodies, and the women of Hollywood (and, indeed, any women with influence) could and should be doing more to challenge those industries and the power they have over vulnerable young women.

Jamil’s article, and the fact that she hasn’t allowed photos of herself to be airbrushed since she “finally [got] the clout to refuse” are a good first step, but airbrushing is only one facet of a much larger problem.

Banning airbrushing, but not improving representation of diverse people and bodies, and not challenging how society talks about things like dieting, weight loss, and thinness, is like cutting off one of the Hydra’s heads only to watch ten more grow back in its place.

California Takes A Step In The Right Direction By Requiring Female Representation On Corporate Boards

Who run the world? Girls.

California has become the first state in the US to require that publicly traded companies have at least one woman on their board of directors.

The law was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday and mandates that companies whose primary offices are located in California comply by the end of 2021.

If the company has five directors, the law requires that at least two of them be women, or at least three if there are seven directors.

Since it’s California, that means that all publicly traded companies located in Silicon Valley will be affected by this. The biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Facebook, Google, Apple, and Twitter, already have women on their boards.

Apple has 2 women and 6 men, Google has 3 women and 11 men, Facebook has 2 women and 7 men, and Twitter has 4 women and 7 men. Of these, Twitter is the closest to equal representation, but 4/11 isn’t exactly a 50-50 split.

According to CBS94 companies based in California have no women on their boards, including Skechers and TiVo.

Ten years ago, Norway instituted quotas requiring women make up 40% of directors at public companies, and other European countries soon followed. While The Economist found that critics’ worst fears didn’t come to pass, the supposed benefits of more women on boards and in director positions haven’t necessarily come to fruition either.

These changes haven’t led to the closing of the wage gap between men and women, nor have they had a huge impact on company decision-making. It’s now a waiting game to see whether these changes being implemented in the fifth-largest economy in the world will benefit women beyond those chosen to sit on boards.

(Header photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Comedian Zoe Coombs Marr Has A Story That Highlights Just How Hard It Is For Women In Comedy And Reminds Us Why Louis CK's Comeback Sucks So Much

If you weren't already annoyed by Louis CK's attempt at a return, you will be now.

Content warning: sexual assault.

Zoë Coombs-Marr, one of Australian comedy’s rising stars, kicked off an important discussion yesterday when she posted about why she quit performing standup comedy as herself.

On Twitter, Coombs-Marr shared a disturbing story about a male comedian she was on a lineup with making an aggressive rape joke and directing it towards a young woman in the audience.

“I love standup. I did my first set at 15 (school concert), got up in a pub at 19 (open mic). And I stopped doing standup at 26 after a gig in Sydney when the act before me went into full rape “riff” that ended with him literally pointing in a young woman’s face in the front row, saying “have you been raped?! No? Are you sure?! What about when you were 12 & your dad was holding you down and fucking you?!” I was the only woman on a bill of 10 men and this is the guy I had to follow.”

She goes on to explain that that was the moment every issue she had with the industry crystallised, and draws a line between an industry that accepts those kind of ‘jokes’ and an industry that embraces men like Louis CK.

THESE are the men we have to share the stage with. THIS is the room every female comic works each night. The kind of room that’ll give a standing o to a known sex offender just for stepping onstage.”

In case you forgot, Louis CK forced several female comedians to watch him masturbate, disappeared for ten months, and tried to stage a soft comeback by performing at the Comedy Cellar over the weekend.

As many have pointed out, CK’s behaviour wasn’t just assault, but assault taking place in the workplace, thereby making the workplace an unsafe and hostile environment for women, or indeed anyone who doesn’t want to work with someone who thinks it’s okay to force women to watch you masturbate.

For those who aren’t familiar with Coombs-Marr, when she says she quit standup ‘as herself’, she’s referring to the fact that she’s been performing in drag as a man for the past several years.

Coombs-Marr accurately describes Louis CK’s attempt at a return as a “slap in all our faces”, particularly when so many women leave comedy due to men just like CK, or just like the guy Coombs-Marr saw on stage, shouting a rape joke at a young woman in the audience.

She goes on to argue that while she managed to channel her rage, doing so shouldn’t be expected of women in comedy who are frustrated with the industry.

Sincerity, especially on topics like sexism, is underappreciated in comedy, even actively discouraged. Coombs-Marr’s openness in talking about her experiences as a female comedian is incredibly valuable, but it’s awful that those experiences happened in the first place, or that so many of her colleagues would rather she just shut up and laugh along with them.

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