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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm not my butt...

...nor my hair. I am so much, much more... (to be hummed to the tune of Indie.Arie's song, "I'm Not My Hair"). Isn't it a shame that Ms. Arie has to remind us that it's not good to reduce people, specifically women, to superficial parts. So, like others in the blogosphere, I, too, take issue with Erin Aubry Kaplan's exploratory essay of Michelle Obama's posterior at Salon. Yes, the First Lady has nice curves, even I have noticed that. But I wouldn't write an in-depth article about it, especially when said article amounts to nothing more than an exercise in narcissism by the author. Kaplan obviously has some body image issues as her prior articles have critiqued her own bodacious anatomy. I sympathize, because I also have a bad body image. But it is quite presumptuous for Kaplan to pull someone else into her pique about how society doesn't fully appreciate her curves.

So we have a woman in the White House with curves, so what? As commenters of the Salon article point out, the whole self-serving article is particularly reductive. Yes, black women have been demeaned because of their bodies and shapes; most women of all cultures and races are similarly demeaned. How is further objectifying women going to help make you feel better about yourself?

As much as Kaplan believes Michelle's posterior in some ways validates her own ass, she has at least one pet peeve with the First Lady-Elect - her hair. Obviously, Ms. Obama isn't being "true" to her "blackness" by mainstreaming her hair. Or so Ms. Kaplan believes. Again, this is truly reductive. If we as black folk are nothing more than our discrete body parts and characteristics, where does that leave our character? Our intelligence? Our souls? "Soul" and "blackness" is a dynamic, ever-changing definition, more than skin color, more than hair texture, more than a particular style. More than the shape of an ass.

Yes, Ms. Kaplan, it's freeing to work out your own soul salvation, to come to terms with your self-reflection. But you don't have to reduce other folk while doing it. I don't know Ms. Obama personally, but I suspect that she would more appreciate being critiqued for her mind and not her ass.

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Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 11/18/2008 11:48:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


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