#NoMakeUpSelfie

21 Mar

I have today been nominated to upload a #NoMakeUpSelfie to Facebook as part of the latest social media craze.

At first, I was baffled by the campaign, which, according to status updates in my facebook newsfeed, had the aim of “raising awareness of cancer.” I found this confusing because I thought most people were pretty much aware of cancer by now (unless they live in a secluded community in the Brazilian rainforest far from the media and carcinogenic chemicals, I suppose).

Nevertheless, the campaign has evolved into one that aims to raise awareness of the work of breast cancer charities, especially Cancer Research UK, and my generous and fabulous women friends have been donating money when uploading selfies. This is admirable and makes much more sense as a campaign.

I do have some problems with the basis of the campaign though, if not with its aims (*collective groan* – sorry everyone).

The idea of women being sponsored, or sponsoring themselves, to go without make-up raises some interesting issues. Is removing make-up really the sort of grand gesture that is deserving of donations? The ultimate sacrifice for charity? The social media trend suggests that this is so. This in itself points to the fact that the world has not accepted women without make-up.* Indeed, the airbrushed, perfect images of women in the media pressure women to wear make-up, as do the endless advertising campaigns that make women feel ugly without it. Of course, why should women care if they feel “ugly” or “beautiful” according to social conventions of what constitutes attractiveness? We shouldn’t, but most of us do, because society trains us to from childhood.

If the #NoMakeUpSelfie idea was consciously and critically attempting to raise awareness of the patriarchal idea that women must be beautiful, and the capitalist idea that they can only be beautiful if they spend money on cosmetics, then I would applaud it. However, I’m not sure it is doing this consciously. It seems to have been started on the basis that an un-made-up woman is something of an unusual freakshow (unusual because many women have been made to feel unattractive without make-up, which is highlighted by some of the comments by men on my facebook newsfeed, calling women’s fresh-faced selfies “ugly”), something outrageous that is done for charity, like having a bath in baked beans. What is this saying? That women should strive to be more attractive by wearing make-up all the time, only taking it off if it’s for charity?

 On the other hand, many women are reclaiming the #NoMakeUpSelfie campaign. The proliferation of diverse, un-airbrushed, un-cosmetically-enhanced images of women is a positive thing, which many of my women friends have noted in their own facebook statuses accompanied by their selfies. Furthermore, quite a few of my women friends have pointed out that they never wear make-up anyway, which in itself shows that the (sexist) basis of the BareFaced campaign – that it is always a daring feat for women to go without make-up – is flawed.

Here is my #NoMakeUpSelfie, which I post to raise awareness of how patriarchal society tells us that how we look isn’t good enough, and how capitalism cajoles us into spending money on (carcinogenic) cosmetics to make us look more socially acceptable:

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And no I’m not dressed yet.

I have chosen to give my donation to Breast Cancer Action, which highlights the very political nature of the disease. I think it’s worth raising awareness of the their work and policies:

  • They lobby for more funding transparency by cancer campaigns that partner with corporations profiting from cancer (by selling products that they know have carcinogenic chemicals, for example, or from creaming huge profits off the medicines they make), such as the Pink Ribbon campaign.
  • They focus on the social disparities amongst mortal victims of cancer. In the US for example, a black woman is 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than a white woman. Cancer is not just about genes, it’s also about social injustice.
  • They highlight the environmental links to breast cancer (did you know that 70% of breast cancer victims have none of the known genetic “risk factors”?) and campaign against the use of carcinogenic chemicals in many of the products that we use everyday (WHICH, IRONICALLY, INCLUDE COSMETICS**
    – in the light of this, going “make-up free” to fight cancer makes much more sense!)
  • They advocate for less toxic and more effective treatment for breast cancer, and for the treatments that are best for the patient rather than those that best match the needs of corporations.
  • They have a strict corporate donations policy (no donations from corporations that profit from cancer) and are therefore in far greater need of donations from members of the public.

*I don’t mean to suggest that all women who wear make-up do so due to societal pressures. There are many reasons why women wear make-up. Some see it as an art form, for example. Others find it creative and fun. I should also note that I deplore the shaming of women who are seen to “wear too much slap.”

**Click here or here for advice on buying make-up and other cosmetics that aren’t going to give you cancer.

Police your body

10 Mar

WOMAN, the year is 1984 and you are the dictator of your body. Keep it under tight surveillance, bending it to the will of culture. You mustn’t forget that society owns your body, but you are responsible for its upkeep.

Why do you sit like that, with your wicked unwieldy flesh spread out all over that chair? Don’t take up so much space: it’s unladylike. Fold your arms in. Cross your legs. Bow your head. That’s better.

Were you born in the West? Capitalism will help you to police your body. Buy make up to veil your face. Pay a diet club to weigh you in each week like cattle at the market. An obliging surgeon will mutilate you into shape for the right price. Contract another woman, preferably a migrant, to rip out your body hair and colour your nails. Buy clothes, lots of clothes. Far away, other women are destroying their bodies with 18/7 shifts to make them for you.

Your body is here for men’s enjoyment. However, don’t forget that there is a fine line between looking enticing and asking to be raped. Impose limits on your body to avoid the latter: curfews, avoidance of intoxication, flirting, wearing short skirts. Keep your demeanour well-policed. If anything happens to you it is your own fault and you will bear the consequences. 

The government owns your womb. Check with the state before using contraception, aborting or attempting reproduction. If you are poor in a Western country, you have no right to children. If you live in a colonised country, your role is a baby-assembly line. The nation needs your offspring to increase the size of its army.

Are you fat or aged? Retire from public life immediately for you are no longer useful. Are you young? Speak only when spoken to and, pray, do not be shrill.

Never forget it: you are the Chief Overseer, not the owner, of your body. 

Fight Father Time with the Cat Litter Facial

1 Feb

As posters from the recent Hollywood blockbuster “The Counsellor” remind us, scars, wrinkles and other signs of ageing are unacceptable in women and yet add character to men. Signs of aging make a man more distinguished, rugged if you like. His stray greys make him a silver fox. He seems more worldly and mysterious. Like a mature whiskey aged in a highland oak barrel, the older man is all the more delectable. On the other hand, a woman must avoid ageing as it will always make her less attractive. No one wants to date a haggard old spinster. Less still do they want to hear a mad old bat attempt to speak with authority. As women age, they become non-people. Their worth has an expiry date.  Older women become disposable, whilst older men are generally seen to have acquired wisdom, authority and experience through their years.

Of course, these sexist and ageist stereotypes are the foundation that holds up the $88 billion anti-ageing industry. Since women’s physical appearance is attached to their social, cultural and economic worth in a way that isn’t true for men, the former are encouraged to spend a sizeable portion of their budgets on looking younger not just by body-dismorphia-enducing advertising campaigns, but also by cultural bodies and the economy. That is why only 18% of TV presenters aged over 50 are women and why older women are the segment of the population hardest hit by the cuts.

Case in point. Anyone remember Arlene Phillips?

Case in point. Anyone remember Arlene Phillips?

So natural woman, if you want to remain a person with worth, you must disguise your humanity from the world and ensure you stay eternally youthful. But we are in crisis and anti-ageing treatments are so expensive. I can’t afford to launch war on Old Father Time and fight the natural changes of my hateful face. In Lenin’s words, what is to be done? Internet beauty bloggers (and the Daily Mail) have an answer: the Cat Litter facial! You, like I did, can try it at home…

Step 1) Learn to recognise that your ageing face is repugnant and needs immediate correction. Women’s mags or the telly can provide inspiration  (Heat magazine’s “Face Watch” column is particularly effective).

Step 2) Buy some cat litter from your local supermarket. Or, if you don’t want to fork out, just scoop up the remnants of your cat’s litter tray, making sure you scrape out any bits of poo before moving on to step 3.

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Step 3) Grind down the pellets of litter in a pestle and mortar until they form a smooth texture. Mix with Evian-branded water. You’ll be impressed by the professional finish that this gives.

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Step 4) Cook your mask slowly in a bain marie. The bain marie ensures a gentle and uniform heat throughout the mask. Microwaving the mask risks too much heat: you don’t want scold your skin with hot shit.

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Step 5) Apply to the face and leave for 15 minutes. Make sure you don’t lie down near your cat. You might find, like I did, that the mask gives off a Gruyere cheese scent as it dries. Wash off cat litter.

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Step 6)  Admire your younger looking face. Voila! Check me out! Post cat-litter facial and my face is as smooth as a newly tarmacked road! Unfortunately, if it doesn’t work for you, it’s time to save up for a trip to the needle farm.

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P.S. Not everyone recommends the cat litter facial. Cosmopolitan magazine, for example, insists that it is not advisable and is probably dangerous. Cosmo bases this view on the advice of their expert, a representative of the American chain beauty salon Sine Qua Non, which happens to be one of the magazine’s numerous sponsors. The beauty rep advises the reader to stick to her salon’s own, much superior brand of “Hungarian-sourced” bentonite clay, which is definitely very different from the bentonite clay used in cat litter. What’s more, her salon will put this clay on your face and rub it in using a soothing motion for just $118! You could also try the bird poo facial for $215.

Sense of entitlement

5 Jan

NaturalWoman:

This is brilliant, and yet horrendous to read

Originally posted on Edinburgh Eye:

This post has trigger warnings.

It’s mostly about rape.

View original 3,051 more words

Tanuary: Spanish politicians go orange for anti-choice

21 Dec

The Spanish People’s Party (PP) have launched a nationwide campaign to increase popular support for the laws that bid women to seek unsafe, illegal and underground terminations.

The legal changes announced last Friday make abortion illegal accept in the case of rape, malformed foetus or potential damage to the pregnant woman’s health. In an attempt to reverse the poll results that find 81% of Spaniards against the reforms, and following in the footsteps of other cringeworthy but popular Anglophone campaigns such as STOPtober and Movember, the ruling PP party will be setting off the new year with a campaign officially named Tanuary.

Tanuary will see high-profile members of the Spanish government wearing fake tan for the entire month of January in an attempt to celebrate anti-choice. Spanish citizens are encouraged to show their support by doing likewise, or, if already bronzed, by donating to the PP’s charitable welfare fund for party members who have not been lucky enough to benefit financially from the Barcenas slush fund scandal. However, plans for further animating mass citizen support via marches complete with placards painted with the slogan “Orange for (the state’s control of) Ovaries” have been cancelled since the expression of political opinions in public is now illegal.

PP members are excited to attend the spray tan shop on mass

PP members are excited to attend the spray tan salon on mass

Commenting on the campaign, President of the Spanish Government Mariano Rajoy said, “the Spanish taxpayer will be treating me to Christmas in Bermuda, which will give me the opportunity to get brown ready for Tanuary. This is a great opportunity for the people of Spain to rally around our national anti-choice principles and fascist heritage, and anyone who says otherwise can f*** the f*** off and pay a fine of €30,000.”

Rajoy takes a “selfie” whilst preparing for Tanuary

The head of Spain’s Catholic Church, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, commented, “we are pleased with the reforms, but feel that the government’s pro-life stance should go further and incorporate the prohibition of male mastubation. Each time a man ejaculates outside of his wife’s body, millions of potential lives are ended. It is literally murder and quite ungodly, whilst having little to do with a man’s right to control his own body.”

The government has not announced any plans for socioeconomic safety nets for financially vulnerable women forced to give birth against their will.

Danger! Un-vagisiled Intimate Area

26 Nov
knickers

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a travel advisory for this intimate area. Anyone who penetrates the area risks contact with thousands of sweat glands and potential kidnap by radicalised groups of unwaxed hairs.

As has been discussed elsewhere on the Capitalist Beauty tag and by Caroline Criado-Perez, the beauty industry has a water-tight business model: it feeds on women’s insecurities about our bodies (our vulnerability stems from the fact that we are taught, from girlhood, that our self-worth is inextricably linked to our ability to mimic constructed notions of beauty and physical attractiveness) by convincing us that we are repulsive. Then, it sells us back the “solutions.” That is, solutions to problems that wouldn’t exist at all if it wasn’t for the beauty industry in the first place.

The most repugnant part of a woman’s body, according to the beauty industry, is her vagina. Apologies! Even the word itself is too offensive to say! Therefore, for the rest of this article I shall follow the beauty industry’s preferred lingo and refer to a woman’s sexual organs as her intimate area.*

There is already a whole array of products and surgical procedures to make our intimate areas seem more pubescent, whiter and tighter. Now, as a TV advertisement informed me the other evening, we should now also be using Vagisil, which, as far as I understand, is a type of Febreze for fannies. According to the advert, although a sweaty “odour” is entirely “normal” in a lady’s intimate area, she should nevertheless be so embarrassed by the fact that her area sweats that she should hide behind a houseplant.** Yet, scenting her intimate area with Vagisil products will “give her the confidence” to kick over the houseplant and brave the social world again. Presumably, this is the capitalist version of women’s empowerment.

Eve was forced to hide behind a fig leaf because she had no Vagisil (and God hadn't invented houseplants in those days)

Eve was forced to hide behind a fig leaf because she had no Vagisil (and God hadn’t invented houseplants in those days)

But gosh! It had never occurred to me that my intimate area shouldn’t be sweating. If  - as the beauty industry tells me – my intimate area should be febreezed, lighter-coloured, labia-free, more symmetrical, tighter, hairless and so on, would it not just be easier to have the entire area removed? Or perhaps we should just glue the lips together with special Vagisil sealant, so that the intimate area would at least stop secreting disgusting fluids such as menstrual blood?

Frankly, by shouting, as they do, “WOMAN, YOUR VAGINA IS DISGUSTING,” Vagisil and the rest of the so-called “intimate health” industry are guilty of profound misogynism and they call for us to collaborate them: they wish for us to hate our intimate areas and to heap shame on other women who don’t. I have spoken to my own intimate area about this, and she is very angry. She is not taking it lying down (although she often does). This intimate area says V is for Vendetta, as well as for Vagina, and she is planning revenge on Vagisil. She has yet to decide what form the vengeance will take, but it will probably involve sending one of the following to the Vagisil office: the Order of the Lady Finger, an old pair of un-febrezed pants, or some artwork formed of vagina prints. Further suggestions welcome.

*Note that this turn of phrase is the clinical and character-free linguistic equivalent of magnolia paint, which is a shame given that the vagina is a source of pleasure and babies. If only the beauty industry used “fun tunnel” or “mother of all souls,” which, I’m sure you’d agree, are nicer substitutes for “vagina”. 

** If you really must follow the advert’s advice, could I suggest you choose the marijuana as your refuge of choice. It may help you to put things into perspective.

A lesson in the non-apology from Slimming World

1 Nov

The fauxapology, also known as the if-apology, is a technique commonly employed by politicians and PR Executives (and, in my experience, by sexists, racists, snobs and ex-romantic interests) to deny any responsibility for the statement, grievance, misdeed or behaviour displayed.

The non-apology merely shows that the non-apologiser is sorry that the aggrieved is requesting an apology, demanding compensation, or threatening retaliation. The non-apologiser shows no contrition, remorse or meaningful expression of regret for their actions. S/he admits nothing. Indeed, the non-apology is often employed to shift blame to the aggrieved, by implying that s/he has misunderstood the incident, is acting in an over-dramatic fashion, has no sense of humour or is over-sensitive. It is basically a way of saying FUCK OFF without saying fuck off.

Consider the following:

•    “I am sorry if you feel that way”
•    “I’m sorry if you are upset”
•    “I’m sorry if you can’t take a joke but most people think my antiquated racial slurs are hilarious”
•    “I’m sorry that your arse got in the way of my hand”
•    “I’m sorry that you interpreted my touchy-feely nature as groping”
•    The non-apology of Maria Kang (she of social media fame due to her mother-shaming “what’s your excuse?” photography, which went viral on facebook last week).

If you need a more in-depth case study in order to better understand the art of faux-apology, please find below Slimming World’s response to my complaint at their hideous mother-shaming marketing strategy:

Dear Joanna
 
Thanks for getting in touch regarding the Slimming World leaflet that you received. We’re really sorry to hear that you feel so upset by it, it’s certainly not meant to cause offence in any way.
 
We use our real members in our campaigns to genuinely reflect the positive changes that losing weight makes to their lives. Sara, the member who you refer to on our leaflet has genuinely said that she feels much happier, more confident and able to be the mum she always wanted to be. By losing weight, she says that she feels fitter and more able to run around and play with her children and that she’s also passing her healthier lifestyle on to her family.
 
At Slimming World we absolutely believe that your worth is not in your weight. It’s our goal to help people who wish to lose weight achieve the weight they want to be – our members choose their own target weight, and we support them to achieve it. Sara has now reached her target weight, which means that she is able to attend her Slimming World group free of charge to help her maintain her weight loss for life.
 
Once again, we’re sorry that you feel upset by our materials and thank you for taking the time to get in touch.
 
With best regards

Have a HOT Halloween

31 Oct

In those bygone, dark days before I began trying in earnest to be a proper woman, I used to believe that I should dress sexily only when I wanted to.* But alas, I was wrong! It seems women, teenagers and girls should dress in a way that men find sexually appealing at all times. This is especially true on Halloween, when, increasingly, the only costumes available to women are sexy ones. Being sexy is compulsory. If men should look ghoulish on Halloween, women should be sexy and ghoulish.

Now that the need to be sexy is clear, it is time to plan your outfit. For those of you that are in a hysterical, female tizzy about what to wear for this weekend’s Halloween parties, kindly stop your fretting at once, for I have developed a short guide to your options:

1)    Go for the traditional sexy scary look. For example, copy my ghost outfit, pictured below, in which scary has become irresistibly sexy by wearing a bra on the outside.

sexy_ghost

Thanks to the “Venus from Mars” blog for this costume idea

2)    Dress up as a traditional Halloween object or animal. Why not dress as a Playboy Pumpkin? Just cover yourself in fake tan and wear bunny ears. TOP TIP: The Playboy Pumpkin look can also be recreated on non-Halloween days. Why not give the guys a a treat and try wearing it to the office one day?

3)    In the USA, and increasingly in the UK, it doesn’t matter if your costume isn’t related to Halloween. Any fancy dress will do, as long as it is sexy. Indeed, Cosmopolitan has plenty of unusual and, in their words, “slutty” (in everyone else’s words “brazenly racist”) ideas for Halloween this year: No.1 on their list is designed especially for women of Asian ethnicity: a sexy Mail-Order Bride! Or, why not poke fun at Native American culture and dress as a Pocohottie?

4)    Typically female professions are always a good source of sexy Halloween inspiration (think sexy Nurse or sexy Secretary). In the context of the economic crisis, female poverty can provide extra ideas for all you hot partygoers. Why not try sexy underemployed, underpaid Office Temp, sexy full-time Carer, or a Sexy Office Worker (thanks Heather for the link)? I have gone for a sexy Unpaid Domestic Labourer, wearing nothing but underwear beneath my apron and making use of a mop as a poledance accessory.

sexy domestic

Admittedly, this outfit would have worked better if the apron was shorter, my tights were fishnet and my feet were clad in stilettos. But I’m just an amateur woman.

*Speaking seriously, the idea that young women can freely choose or meaningfully decide to dress sexily is flawed, given that we live under the pressure of a patriarchal marketing machine, which tells girls to look sexually available to men at all times. With this post, I do not mean to criticise women and girls who choose to dress in a sexy fashion, but to call out the marketing campaigns and industries which make it near impossible for women to negotiate our own choices about how we dress and express our sexualities.

Be the mum you’ve always wanted to be: lose weight.

26 Oct

Dear Morpeth Slimming World Consultant,

I am writing to thank you for the leaflet you kindly posted through my door this morning along with all the takeaway spam and Lidl adverts. It reminded me of a key quality that all mothers should strive to possess if they truly want the best for their children: the desire to be thinner.

Occasionally I think about having children in the future, if I am able to. I wonder if I would make a good mother. Will I be patient, selfless, caring enough? Can I be strict, or will I spoil my offspring horribly? Will I suffer from post-natal depression? What if something happens to my children due to my own lack of shrewdness? Will they be born healthy? What if looking after my baby doesn’t come naturally to me?

As you will have noted, “will I be slim enough?” had, up until now, yet to feature in my list of future motherhood anxieties. Should I have children in the future, I will add “need to lose weight” to the catalogue of guilt that will no doubt be plaguing me.

Of course, it would be wrong of me to fail to acknowledge that your leaflet is not the sole mother-shaming instrument out there. Women’s magazines and several newspapers are full of weight-loss and fitness tips from celebrity mothers who have succeeded in their “quests” to lose baby bumps, which implies that all new mothers should be striving for this goal. But the honesty of your leaflet made it stand out from the crowd: slimming is simply a must-have quality for any woman who wants to be an amazing mum. The message is clear.

Forgive me, however, for there is something which I do not understand. What is it, exactly, that makes slimming mums better than ones that aren’t on a diet or weight-loss exercise regime? Can they play better? Do they care and love more? Are they better at discipline? Are they are better equipped to pass body-guilt on to their own children, thereby reproducing a market necessary for the survival of the capitalist weight-loss industry? Do share.

Yours faithfully,

Natural Woman

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If you slim down, you could be the mum you’ve always wanted to be

Re-blog: Cosmo for Latinas: Are You FIESTY, CURVY, and HOT-BLOODED Enough to Try It?

11 Oct

I’m not sure how to re-blog from a site hosted on a platform other than wordpress, so I’m copy-pasted the blog I wrote for Vagenda (http://vagendamag.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/cosmo-for-latinas-are-you-fiesty-curvy.html):

The quality of my daily internet procrastination time has just been shat on by the discovery of Cosmo Latina, which reaches new pits of unintentional hilarity, extreme patronisation and eye-watering levels of facepalm, even by Cosmo’s scraping-out-the-portaloo-cistern standards. Give it a read and you’ll be wallowing up to your chocho* in racismo and machismo quicker than you can shriek Devious Maids in a Mejicano accent. As one of our Twitter followers put it after coming across an article entitled ‘Find out what makes the hombres tick!’: WTF? Are the people at Old El Paso making magazines now?

Before we start, a note on language: Cosmo Latina (I will call it C-La for short) is written mainly in English but is peppered, at random, with Spanish words. I like to call this strange-speak Cospañol. I will use Cospañol throughout this article so that you too can experience its full horror without having to go near C-La yourself.

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First stop: I salsaed over to the beauty section, or “bronze belleza”, as C-La likes to call it. The first feature, “Four Ways Your Phone is Ruining Your Skin,” is accompanied with a photograph of a woman gleefully toothbrushing her own face with what looks like bubblebath. Presumably (although it’s not explained anywhere in the text, so perhaps it’s just another odd variation on the weird and baffling world of Cosmo sex tips), this is a suggested method for ridding your face of the adverse effects of using a phone, which, according to C-La, include “early wrinkles”, “crows feet”, “dark spots”, “acne” in the “phone zone” of your face (that’s the danger area from “your temple to your chin,” apparently) and – new portmanteau of the year… wait for it – “Text Neck.” Are you actually fucking joking me, C-La? Text Neck???

“Admit it, whether you’re walking, sitting, or laying down you’re usually staring down at your phone. According to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, constantly looking down causes the collagen in your neck to break down, leaving that turkey-looking neck.”

No Cosmo Latina (I’m calling you by your full name because you’ve been very naughty), funnily enough I don’t need to admit that the majority of my life is spent “staring down at my phone” because my default position is slouching my shoulders and either smiling or frowning, depending on whether or not I’m having a Latina-style feisty day. When I lay down, it tends to be with the intention of inducing sleep, and if I’m staring down whilst walking, that’s usually to avoid stepping in a turd. As for “that turkey-looking neck,” could your drop the knowing “that” please? In fact could you drop the whole paranoia-enducing, shaming reference to women’s bodies looking like turkeys? And maybe tell your “Cosmetic Dermatologist” (aka professional face-butcher who likes to wield his little body-hate knife around the necks of victims of The Patriarchy) to crawl back into the misogynist arsehole from whence he came? Cheers.

Let’s turn to the highlights of the gossip column, ingeniously entitled “Qué está pasando?” or, for the non-Cospañol speakers, “What is Happening?” First up: congratulations are in order for Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima, who managed to, in C-La’s soothsaying words, “save herself,” until marriage. ¡Ole Adriana! ¡A tequila for you! Says C-La, “We really respect that a hot woman like that can ward off all the sucio men out there to wait for Mr. Right.” I don’t know what to do first: wipe off the vomit that I’ve just projected over all the slut-shaming that’s inhabiting my screen as I read this article, or ask, would C-La consider it less of an achievement for a non-“hot” woman to maintain her “purity”? There are so many issues with this quote that I’m going to stop analysing it and instead perform the headdesk move of desperation.

In other news, in stories so boring that I actually cried a bit, Paulina Rubio “makes fun of Simon Cowell’s Moobs,” and Shakira wins a price for sexiest curves, but doesn’t attend “probs because she was spending time with her beauty baby Milan.” Her beauty baby. Moobs. And, just so you know, C-Latina women are “fun and feisty” females, rather than their “fun and fearless” regular (implicitly non-latina) Cosmo counterparts, cos latinas are more quick-tempered and irrational than white Cosmo readers, obv.

Adios to the gossip section.

Despite the repeated assertion throughout the magazine that all Latina women are curvy (actual quotes: “you don’t want to be skinny”, “in Colombia everybody’s very voluptuous, and you’re supposed to be”), the section dubiously dubbed “Fashion” seems to be devoted to ways to cover up your curvas, including top ten dresses for disguising your implicitly unsightly “panchito”*, and ways to get around the – quote – “tough” feat of looking nice if you “have junk in the trunk” (that’s “a large bottom” in normal speak). Are you comfortable in your body? Do you like the way it looks in clothes? Well you shouldn’t. Move over, gordita*.

The next fashion feature is on dressing for the office. This can’t go too wrong, right? Wrong. The article begins with the tale of a banker who was sacked for being “too sexy” after having been forbidden by her employers (Citibank) from wearing turtlenecks, pencil skirts, heels, or fitted suits, as her colleagues, reportedly, could not concentrate on their work. I expected the article to continue in an outraged fashion calling out sexism and discrimination in the workplace, providing useful advice on how to deal with such issues and information on legal rights (OK, I didn’t. But if the context had been anything other than a Cosmo magazine, I would have) but sadly, C-La decides to side with Citibank on this one, and decides to offer some tips for other women “with curves” who work in offices and don’t want to be sacked because their colleagues are pervertidos:

“you want to blend in”

“If you have to, go up a size” with the sympathetic caveat “we know how daunting it can be to have to go up a size–especially if you’re already feeling some sort of way about the size you typically wear”

“When it comes to pants, a wider leg can be more flattering particularly for those of us with lovely lady lumps. Save anything remotely tight for after 5 drinks or on the weekend.”

“in the case of hemlines, always err on having the hem as close to the knee (or longer) as possible.”

“Under no circumstances should there be any cleavage in a conservative work environment.”

C-La, this victim-blaming path you are going down is a dark, dangerous and turd-ridden one. Tears are falling on my un-moisturised hands as I write. I’m crying because this article was written IN 2013. IN A WOMEN’S MAGAZINE. FOR WOMEN. NOT FOR SELF-JUSTIFYING OFFICE PERVERTS. And C-La, for the record, I have what you would probably call curvy boobs and bum, and actually the “some sort of way” I feel about my body is that I like it. That’s despite all your hard work to make me hate it. Soz.

Over to the “Love and Sex” section. (Corgasmo! See what I did there?!) As hard as it was to resist headlines such as “The Best Position for his Sign”, “Should You Break Up if your Suegra* is a Bitch?” and “The Absolute Best Ugly Cries in History” (complete with a devastated Britney Spears looking “ugly” whilst sobbing her heart out), it was the How to Seduce Men feature that drew me in. Having a Latino partner myself, I thought I could do with a few tips on how to keep him interested:

“Style in stilettos: High heels always rate number one on men’s fave accessory—and this is a look we Latinas can pull off while running to the grocery store. Forgo comfy flats and trainers, as every Latina worth her salt should have one pair of killer take-this tacones ready to go. These fun multi-colored snakeskin pair from Carlos Santana are super fun and boner producing ($78.99, carlosshoes.com).”

Funny that: I never knew that (Carlos Santana-designed?) stilettos were the keystone of Latina identity (wait, what’s that faint rumbling? Ah, sorry – just Frida Kahlo turning in her grave). Anyway, when I’m getting ready to go to the supermarket I often stop to ponder what the best footwear option would be. But, like a true Cosmo girl, my choice always comes down to that one crucial factor: no, not comfort, not that. When going to the supermarket, I always ensure that my shoes are “boner producing.” Cos what every real (latina) lady wants is a man getting una ereción whilst perving on her in the meat aisle.

“Whisper papi in his ear: The next time your man is lost in his computer, sidle up behind him and softly ask, “You seem stressed, can I help you with anything, papi?” Ears are super erogenous zones, so his motor will be running. Plus, hearing such a familiar term delivered in a naughty way is total turn on.”

Despite my better judgement, I decided to road test this one. Turns out that light references to incest whilst playing internet chess is not a turn on for my hombre (if it is for you and your partner, then great, I just wish Cosmo would include a tip based on ask your partner what s/he likes amongst their monthly smorgasbord of sexy advice, and that they wouldn’t depict their advice as guaranteed to work. Not everyone likes the same thing, and by implying that they do, Cosmo also implies that you are a sexual failure if their “fullproof” tips don’t work for you).

“Show some skin: Gorgeous Cubana Eva Mendes, who’s dating Hollywood’s hottest actor, Ryan Gosling, shows off her tanned glowing cuerpo every chance she gets, saying, “I’m not at all ashamed or frightened about showing my body.” Choose a strapless dress, one-shouldered number, sexy shorts, or rock a mini to drive him wild.”

I’ve been trying to digest this one. I keep on trying, but it won’t go down. It just keeps coming back up soaked in the bile of hypocrisy. Perhaps if we hadn’t been exposed to women’s mags, with their monthly doses of body dismorphia-enducing weight-loss tips, air-brushed, white-washed models, cosmetic surgery adverts, and tips on how to look better, dress better, be less fat, be more man-pleasing and be less everything-that-we-are-naturally, many women would be less ashamed of their bodies.

After returning from the kitchen where I stood next to the open fridge door for 5 minutes until the burning anger in my head had calmed down, I attempted to lighten things up by reading the sex horoscope. Mine says:

“Nothing like a little danger to heighten your senses, which is why you’ll want to hit up seedier pursuits to find your orgasm now. Yes, toys, swinger parties and porn will be all ways to explore your sexuality, as it’ll be the great unknown that you’ll want to come for.

Single: Straight-up and pure lust is addicting now. Let it be a habit you want more of.

Hooked-up: If your man gets too pushy, push back even harder. Tension is your aphrodisiac now.”

That last bit. I can’t… I just can’t… It’s too much. All I’ll say is that men pushing their partners to do things that they don’t want to (including things they perceive as dangerous, swinger parties or “seedier pursuits,” whatever that’s supposed to mean) = good reason to end your relationship/massive consent fail/possible sexual assault rather than a reason to “play your aphrodisiac card and withhold sex”

Next up: The Best Places to Have Public Sex without Getting Caught (Note to C-La: “public sex” (dogging?) has a rather different connotation to “sex in public places,” (not necessarily dogging?) but anyway…)

“At the park: The park is common place—it’s as sexy as doing it in the wild but eliminates the risk of getting bitten in the a** by something weird. Just make sure the timing is right. Go into the gazebo or a shady area by a tree that’s blocked off from street view. The last thing you want is a little kid to catch you mid-act.”

Getting bitten in the ass by something weird… you’ve underestimated my partner C-La. I’m baffled by the almost philosophical-sounding observation that “the park is a common place,” (is that a Yoda quote?) and what is meant by “the wild”? If they mean the countryside, then their readers should beware angry farmers in lambing season. The thought of sex in my local park “in a shady area by a tree” just makes me sad and brings to mind teenagers and supermarket own-brand cider. Surely this is not spicy, sassy and caliente enough for sexy latinas? On the other hand, I’m pleased C-La reminded its audience that sex in front of child strangers is not advisable.

“in a utility closet: people almost never go in those old utility closets. We believe they were strictly put there for people to um, bone. Just be careful for all the dust mites that are probably floating around in there. You’ll want to make this one a quickie.”

Actually C-La, I think utility closets were strictly put there for cleaners (you know, those people who do one of the most socially useful jobs but get paid a poverty wage, who you might have seen cleaning up your mess when you stayed late at the office that time?) to store their cleaning stuff. Just sayin’.

Sorry, but I’ve had to skip the rest of the content, which, besides from the sexism and racismo (check out the they must be joking …oh god… they’re not joking are they, could-they-be-more-racially-stereotyped recipes sponsored by Unilever, the wonderful makers of Fair and Lovely skin lightening cream: two types of enchiladas, two varieties of salsa, Mexicano casserole and … get ready for it… TEQUILA salmon) has the charisma-black-hole effect most often associated with the character of Sergeant Brody’s wife in Homeland. Besides, I need to go and get my bikini line brasileñoed before my macho gets home.

C-La seems no different to standard Cosmo: it’s the same old heterosexist rag convincing women of all their flaws and providing them with the (pricey) “solutions,” but with added use of racist clichés of the sexy, sensual, curvy Latina, who is a slave to her “fierce”, uncontrollable temper. Why does Cosmo feel it has the right to assign these traits to an entire group of women? Why does Cosmo assume that Latina is a homogenous group? Why did Hearst (the owners of Cosmo) decide to create this spin-off targeting a specific ethnic group? Did they feel bad that their standard mag is generally white-washed? If so, would it have been preferable to have tried to address the racism and white-centrism within the initial magazine instead of creating a patronising offshoot? Who knows. At the end of the day, this new magazine is just another attempt by Hearst to sell shit to what they see as an emerging and lucrative market.

Oh well. Back it is to regular Cosmo, welcoming me with open arms and 16 “ovary-tickling” pictures of “DILFS and their cute babies”. Fuck it. I’m suffering from overexposure to racist exoticism and The Patriarchy. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the recovery position in my clamshell.

Image

* vagina
* belly
* fatty
*mother-in-law

For more delicious cosmocking try the dedicated thread on the Pervocracy blog

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