In 2011 Janet Jackson released her first book, “True You: A Journey To Finding And Loving Yourself”. In it she wrote extensively about being extremely self conscious when it comes to her body. She made it clear that she doesn’t always feel sexy and beautiful, making it hard to maintain the image that so many people know and love her for.
I was reading the book and thinking to myself, how in the world could Janet Jackson, probably one of the sexiest women on the planet, not feel sexy.
Janet talked about what played into her lack of self-esteem. Growing up as a kid in Hollywood, there was pressure on her from work and from her parents to maintain a certain figure and look a certain way. All of this led to her not feeling good about her body.
Media and paparazzi made it no better by snagging pictures of Janet during her down time when she may have gained a little weight and attaching headlines like, “She’s fallen off the wagon” and “she’s pregnant” and all the other things the media say about women when they gain weight.
We’ve recently seen the same thing happen with Beyonce. She may possibly be a little thicker than what people are used to (although for me it’s hard to tell because she’s a shapely woman anyway). Questions are now circulating that she may be pregnant again.
If Beyonce’ is expecting again, of course that’s a wonderful thing, but why are we constantly reducing women to their bodily functions? Why does Beyonce’ have to be pregnant just because she’s gained weight?
Both Janet and Beyonce’ has proved themselves to be two of the hardest working women in entertainment. Beyonce’ even recently spoke about her very strict diet when she’s working.
Now she’s taking a moment to enjoy the she gives so much of to us, and she has to be pregnant?
How bout maybe she’s just enjoying a chance to eat.. food? How about maybe she’s enjoying a chance to live outside of rehearsal? Outside of the studio? Maybe she’s just enjoying a chance to actually be… outside.
Women are the passage way that everyone alive has taken to get here, and giving birth to another human is the most amazing thing anyone could ever do. The power of the act though should not result in women being limited to it as their greatest attribute.
Women are our nurturers. They take care us physically and emotionally. They support us and love us without a second thought.
Just like the rest of us, women also deserve time to be who ever they feel like they are. If they want to be thin or not, if they choose to have children or not, what ever they want to be, they are deserving of it.
Yes Beyonce’ and Janet are both very sexy women, but they are also more than their sex appeal. They are human.
As talented a singer as Kelly Clarkson is, commentary about her weight is just as present as conversation about her talent, and that shouldn’t be.
As it relates to the ups and downs of her weight, Kelly has said this:
“..No one actually cares about your health. They just care about aesthetics. It’s when I’m fat that I’m happy. People think, Oh, there’s something wrong with her. She’s putting on weight. I’m like, ‘Oh, no!’. I’m sorry, but that represents happiness in my emotional world. For me, when I’m skinny is usually when I’m not doing well. If you gauge your life on what other people think, you’re going to be in a constant state of panic trying to please everyone. People should just concentrate on their own lives and their own health and their own happiness, and whatever that looks like for you, be happy with it.”
“They just care about aesthetics”. I’m not even a person that would begin to judge a woman by what size she is, and that comment hits hard. Particularly as it relates to women, if a women is larger, people automatically assume she’s eating too much or is in bad health or is lazy, not even considering the fact that some health issues can cause unwanted weight gain.
Even though being slim doesn’t necessitate good health, people want women to be thin for their pleasure, or as it relates to women like Kelly Clarkson, for their entertainment, not out of any genuine concern for their health.
I can remember in middle school there was a young lady that was constantly picked on about her size. At one point she and I were having casual conversation about a class, and the fact that she had a thyroid issue came up. She told me it was the reason her weight would spike and there was difficulty in finding treatment for her.
I thought to myself she probably didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t want people to know she was sick and then pick on her for that. No sooner than I thought that, she said, “Sometimes I just want to blurt it out, but people don’t really understand thyroid conditions so everyone would probably think I’m lying.”
I wanted to run out and defend her to everyone, but I knew I couldn’t do that, so I instead made sure she knew I was a friend she could come to. We didn’t keep in touch beyond the time she was at my school, but I am glad to have been able to support here during that time in her life.
As talented as Lizzo is, the conversations about her weight have been incessant. She’s even said that people have asked her how she could love herself being her size.
On the one hand, sure, it’s not about her physical size, but about the enormity of her talent. Yet her size needs to be acknowledged not out of pity, but as an example of the judgement and scrutiny women who aren’t thin go through. As a by product of the entertainer Lizzo is, she has also held up a mirror to us, forcing us to look at the way we treat women her size.
I was hesitant to write any of this because on one hand as a man, my perspective on this really isn’t that important. However, men are the main perpetrators of reducing women to their bodies, and more of us need to speak out in support of women and acknowledge that their beauty goes far beyond the physical.
Also, being raised by two women and watching them as I grew up gave me a great level of respect for women and what they have to go through as they move around in a world dominated by men who more often than not take them for granted and judge them by how they look.
Women are far more powerful than we men are, and we stand to loose nothing by giving them their seat at the table as they deserve.
The head seat at the table, that is.
I find one of Janet Jackson’s songs appropriate here as a question women around the world are asking men: “What have you done for me lately?”