This week, a video of Cynthia Nixon narrating a poem called ‘Be A Lady, They Said’ went viral on social media.
Listen to the GOAT team break down the whole thing on the latest ep of It’s Been A Big Day For…below:
The video, which has already been viewed millions of times, features Nixon reciting a list of all the contradictory statements women are exposed to on a daily basis. The statements are complemented by confronting imagery of extreme beauty measures, tabloid magazine covers, pop culture references, young girls in heels and makeup and more.
The powerful words were originally written in 2017 by poet Camille Rainville and include things like, “don’t be too fat, don’t be too thin. Eat up, slim down. Stop eating so much. Order a salad, don’t eat carbs. God, you look like a skeleton!”
If you’re a woman watching this, it’s hard to ignore the feeling of anger and sadness that stirs within. These kinds of harmful and conflicting messages are something most, if not all, women have experienced and continue to experience throughout their lives.
The Madonna-Whore dichotomy has become deeply ingrained in our culture. It’s an idea enforced by the patriarchy that women must be either perceived as “good, pure and wholesome” Madonnas, or “bad, promiscuous and seductive” whores – and there’s no in-between, or freedom to be both.
People have also responded to Cynthia Nixon’s ‘Be A Lady’ video with disdain because of its ties to Girls Girls Girls magazine. Throughout history, fashion magazines have had a tendency to enforce the very stereotypes and unrealistic expectations of femininity that this video is trying to break apart.
However, instead of portraying fashion and beauty as something out-of-reach and only accessible to a select few, Girls Girls Girls magazine has made a conscious effort to shine a light on a wide range of body types, races, ages and life situations. Many of us will remember the magazine’s 2018 cover featuring Rachel McAdams wearing a breast pump.
At the end of the day, it’s OK if watching Cynthia Nixon’s ‘Be A Lady’ video made you angry – in fact, it should. It might not make you pick up a copy of Girls Girls Girls, it might not make you look at Camille Rainville’s other incredible work, but it should start a conversation that is long overdue. Both men and women need to work together to change the harmful language we’ve all become so desensitised to – and this is a big step in the right direction.
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