3 Editors in Search of a Definition

The GirlBodyPride Editors discuss Caitlyn Jenner, Jon Stewart, Objectification and More

We here at GBP were trying to come up with a response to both Jon Stewart’s excellent response to Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover and to objectification in general. What happened instead was a pretty interesting conversation where we realized that often to us (and then probably to the rest of the population) this is one of those we know it when we see it things that we can’t quite explain. I mean, go Caitlyn! So happy you can be who you really are finally but yes, Stewart makes a point because now that you’re a mainstream hottie your accomplished past will go out the window.

If one is modeling (and on the cover of Vanity Fair no less) there’s a certain amount of putting yourself out their for objectification of your body, no? Even if Annie Leibowitz is doing the photographing…

What part of modeling is about empowerment of the model to own her beauty? What part of it is about what the voyeur (audience) sees?

Here’s a snippet of our conversation we had as we were trying to wrap our ‘enlightened’ heads around Caitlyn, objectification and acceptance.

Pauline: It’s a catch 22. It really is. If Caitlyn was an ugly woman, would we be having these conversations? She’d be the butt off all the jokes. But she’s gorgeous so she’s being objectified. Can’t win for losing.

Margaret: This is what I’m hoping to discover in interviewing models (at the Ink n Iron Festival) at what point are we objectifying ourselves and at what point is it others doing the objectifying? Who am I getting dressed for?

Shoshana: Good point. It’s a fine line. When are you allowed to call someone ‘beautiful’?

Pauline: That’s the whole point.

Shoshana: Exactly.

Pauline: Yes we do what we like that makes us feel good.

Margaret: Or we think we do. We hope we do.

Pauline: I love my red lipstick and my curves are killer.

Shoshana: …And my cleavage and beautiful face, and awesome clothes.

Margaret: I’m well aware of my…attributes and I do play them up.

Pauline: But when am I empowering myself by celebrating what makes me feel good about me and when is the guy on the street corner being an asshole for saying ‘hey baby, looking good!’

Margaret: Yeah, the guy yelling on the street corner is almost always the asshole for objectifying.

I think my motto has always been if you’re going to be fat be fashionable. Because skinny can get away with looking like it rolled out of bed; fat cannot.

Shoshana: Which is why I’m opening my (plus size) store.

Pauline: Right but it’s not just fat or curvy or skinny or average or straight or gay. It’s judgment and perception and ideals and objectification and Caitlyn Jenner looking better as a woman than she did as a man and how it’s unsettling to pretty much the entire world because she’s supposed to look like a perver in a bra with hairy boobs and a receding hairline … Not a fucking Hollywood starlet from days gone by.

We say she’s gorgeous and we mean it as a compliment. But at the same time we are minimizing her value as a human by objectifying her as a woman. None of which she had to deal with as Bruce. But she’s the one with the makeup and the boobs and the truth she must share for herself and others like her.

So why is it wrong to compliment her beauty?

We applaud a live show to show our pleasure with the performance. We buy tickets to the movies and concerts for our favorite actors and musicians. In these cases, we are expected to make our feelings known.

Margaret: You know I’m Fickle about compliments. When it comes from someone I think is hot, I’m fine with it.

No one says we are objectifying a band for their stirring lyrics as we are accused of when commenting on Caitlin’s wicked cleavage when both were put out there for us to listen to and see.

Margaret: Which is its own double standard.

Pauline: See? Exactly. The point is we can pretend it’s just for us but none of us loves in a fucking bubble or a vacuum.

Shoshana: This is the perfect, Pauline.

Pauline: The day I put on my red lipstick just for me and not partially for you or her or him or them is the day I am declared dead.

Shoshana: I put on lipstick in the hospital.

Margaret: This feminist never leaves the house without lipstick on.

Pauline: I’m not saying that the 77 cents on the dollar is fair, from what Jon Stewart was saying. I’m just saying that objectification gets a bad rap, kinda like Eve and that apple. Sometimes a compliment is just a compliment and a snake in the garden is a sign not that we suck at gardening, but that we need to to call the exterminator.

Margaret: Except of course that the snake symbolizes the goddess. I objectify all the time but my taste is weird. So I’m not looking For Barbie and Ken dolls.

Pauline: Me neither.

Shoshana: Give me someone quirky and I’ll drool. I think about my tattoos and isn’t that asking to be objectified as art? Our bodies are our stories. Our faces are our stories. As one of you said, what’s the difference between us and art? I think we are all art.

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