Women & Politics: Hillary Clinton Finally Has Permission to Be a Bitch

Women & Politics: Hillary Clinton Finally Has Permission to Be a Bitch

Women’s News: What Women Lose In The Fight To Be Thin

Women’s News: What Women Lose In The Fight To Be Thin

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

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Women’s News: What Women Lose In The Fight To Be Thin

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Kate Orazem

Writer

Every single daydream starts with there being less of me. It doesn’t matter what it is: I’m sleeping with Michael Fassbender, I’m Poet Laureate of the Universe, Sleater-Kinney gets back together and adds me on bass — every idle fantasy begins with the caveat that I am 10, or 20, or 30 pounds lighter than I actually am. You could make an argument that I don’t want anything more than I want to be skinny. You would probably be right.

I was anorexic and bulimic for many years. I never got bad enough to be hospitalized, but I was a scary-looking person. I’d stop getting my period for months at a time, and there was a constant sly whisper in my head saying worthless, undisciplined, fat. Skinny was my idol, starving my religion; I counted calories like I’d once prayed rosaries. I had a black notebook that I kept hidden behind a bookshelf in my room, and in it, every night, I wrote down four things: my weight, what I’d eaten, how much I’d exercised and how many times I’d thrown up. On good days, when I’d done hundreds of crunches and stuck to my diet of carrots and tea, I would feel virtuous, clean, filled with light. On bad days I’d curl up on my bathroom floor and sob, wondering why I was trapped in this thing, this body I hated, this clinging robe of flesh that I longed to discard.

Relationships seemed impossible; I couldn’t imagine how anyone could ever want me the way I was. And so I spent a lot of time alone, at war with myself, doing quiet, devastating violence to my own body. There’s a line from a poem I wrote at that age that comes back to me sometimes: I want to read my ribs like headlines.I thought there was some secret knowledge that thinness would bring me, some magic in it that would make me more successful, more lovely, more loved. I never found it.

In many ways, I am better now, but some things break and stay broke. I have a vivid memory of myself at 16, facing sideways in front of a mirror and pushing the skin of my sunken stomach into what I was sure was a potbelly. I stood there staring at my wasted frame, seeing, literally seeing, someone vast and bloated and monstrous staring back. How much can you ever rely on your senses again after that? How can you trust your own mind? There are other scraps of delusion that I can’t ever seem to root out. I could still tell you without hesitation the number of calories in a handful of almonds or two and a half Saltines. I still steal glances at my reflection in shop windows and feel horrified at how thick my thighs are, or how round my cheeks. I am healthier and happier now, but I can’t help but think I was prettier then. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m locked in a body that I will never love.

I don’t think I am alone in this. I think I am one of a multitude. I’ve met women my age who eat what they want and couldn’t care less if they gain two pounds over Christmas, but I am convinced they are the exception, not the rule. The rule is that if you are a woman in America, you want nothing quite so much as you want to be a little smaller. The rule is you are always trying to lose.

It’s no coincidence that this plague primarily strikes women (though I don’t want to discount the growing number of men who struggle with disordered eating). As women, our bodies are not entirely our own, and we are not always able to avoid others’ attempts to pass judgment on or make demands of or possess them. Having been made the emblems and objects of desire, we do our best to live up to the role, tithing gym trips and skipped dinners. Whole nations of women spend their hours not reading books or loving bands or making goddamn change but instead agonizing over the inches of a waist.

So our personal hells are, of course, political realities, and smarter women than me — Bordo, Malson, Wolf — have begun the analysis we need to change them. But here, I mean to put aside polemic for a moment, and offer something like an elegy:

For the girls I know and the girl I was, and sometimes still very much am, who construct entire lives engineered for emptiness. For those who have died, or died a little, or who feel like failures for doing what they must to stay alive. For a generation of brilliant, driven, angry, wonderful women who get up, and look in the mirror, and demand so much less of themselves.

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-orazem/body-image-what-women-lose-in-the-fight-to-be-thin_b_2551124.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

Women & Politics: Hillary Clinton Finally Has Permission to Be a Bitch

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Watching Hillary Clinton testify before Congress yesterday, in what will probably be her last big act as secretary of State, all I could think was, The woman is bulletproof. After more than two decades in the public eye, she comes across — at long last — as a powerful, authentic, and authoritative leader, not some geeky girl striving to find her place at the cool kids’ table. Plainspoken and emotional, but not defensive, Secretary of State Clinton talked about what she knew about the terrorist attacks on Benghazi, and when she knew it. And when Republican Senator Ron Johnson endeavored to pin the blame for insufficient or misleading public information about the attacks on her, she took him to school, clearly exasperated but never losing her cool. “Honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this,” she said, “but the fact is people were trying their best in real time to get the best information.” (The message between the lines: “When you are dealing with murderous terrorists in Libya, senator,then you can criticize.”)

What Hillary thinks and says finally matters more than how she looks — which is a good thing, because in that regard, she no longer gives much of a damn. From muumuus to ponytails, her body language and her public persona over the past year or so have reminded me of what a friend once said to me about menopause: “It gives me permission to be the bitch I always was.”

The aging process is, for most of us, a cause for dread. But in Hillary’s case it is liberating: As a post-menopausal woman, she no longer needs to concern herself with the armies of attackers who for years have ceaselessly found her insufficiently girlish, womanly, or sexually desirable. (“When she comes on television,” said Tucker Carlson, “I involuntarily cross my legs.”)  She tried to please on the femininity front, she failed, and now, what the hell, she can be the ballbuster and the battle axe that her critics always said she was: smarter, tougher, and wilier than everyone else. Come 2016, Joe Biden and any other Democrat with presidential dreams should be worried.

In the early days, some of her critics called her an arriviste, a wifey hanging on to her billion-watt husband’s coattails, but that critique doesn’t work anymore either. Clinton was a senator from New York for eight years and secretary of State — traveling to 112 different countries — for four. People continue to criticize her marriage for being sick and twisted on the one hand — a story of an ugly duckling smitten with a cad — or a contractual convenience on the other. In the end, neither case is borne out by evidence. The Clintons have been through it all: infidelity, humiliation, health crises, career conflicts. They’ve lived it in public, and still, when the secretary of State was discharged from the hospital, as she was earlier this month after treatment for a blood clot in her brain, she was flanked by her husband and daughter. What was striking about the tableau was how ordinary it seemed: The Clintons looked like nothing more or less than what they are, a family. Even gossipy tell-alls like Primary Colors and Game Change now work in her favor, for they unveil her worst characteristics before they could become damaging revelations in an election year. What can critics and opponents say about her now? That she’s extremely ambitious? Well, yes. That she’s a feminist? Obviously. That she’s fat, jowly, wrinkled? Okay, but has anyone taken a look at the Senate lately?

Her detractors said she wasn’t pretty enough. She wasn’t girlish enough. Compared to her husband, she was dorky, nerdy, a lesser light, a wide-hipped valedictorian in Coke-bottle glasses. She came off as superior, and for that some people will never forgive her. The teasing started before her husband’s first inauguration (to which she wore a spherical, royal-blue hat that some fashion writers compared to a UFO, and her face to a chipmunk’s) and never stopped. But look at her now. The images of Hillary being passed around in the past several months are a testament to what may be the most dramatic political turnaround in memory. Whether she’s scowling furiously at her BlackBerry, or taking a gleeful iPhone snap with Meryl Streep, or drinking beer from a bottle in Cartagena, Hillary Clinton comes across as comfortable in her skin, finally, and much more than smart. At last, she seems lovable.

Read More:  http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/01/hillary-finally-has-permission-to-be-a-bitch.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

 

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