Thursday, May 14, 2009

Not wearing pantyhose? Not natural.

I love Michelle Obama, and I love the way she dresses. But man, I am sick to death of hearing about her limbs and how they reflect poorly on American Women. Especially from execrable new blog Double X in which Susannah Breslin tells me and Michelle Obama that if we didn't wear pantyhose, we were unstylish, not sufficently erotic, and basically on the level of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan:

Well, what the Obama-struck fail to acknowledge is that there is nothing casual—or natural—about a bare leg in 2009. Not in today’s medicalized beauty culture. Whereas pantyhose are lambasted as being constrictive and a colossal waste of money, going bare means a woman must consider waxing, exfoliation, firming creams, anti-cellulite and stretch-mark treatments, regular pedicures, and salon spray tans or self-tanners—yes, even for women of color...

I'm sorry. Is she saying that not wearing pantyhose is unnatural? And that those excessive treatments are not just an option, but a necessity?

Having cellulite is natural. Leg hair is natural. Stretch marks are natural. There is nothing that says that we must consider these things. I certainly didn't when I threw on a skirt this morning.

You know what's not natural? Pantyhose. If it were natural, we'd be born with nylon netting on our legs. But we're not.

It makes sense that a Double X writer would be so insistent about what's natural and what's not. After all, this is a magazine for natural women - anyone with an errant Y gene is automatically not natural, right?

Beyond that! Pantyhose is not "the ultimate in comfort and convenience". They're hot, and uncomfortable, and you can't wear open-toed shoes with them, and if you're tall (like me & Ms. Obama) they usually make your crotch about a foot long.

Also, citing a plastic surgeon as support? Really? Really? They're the ones we need to pay attention to when figuring out what beauty standards should be? And deciding that Ms. Obama is on the level of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan?

This piece might have been a little more excusable if we actually had to cover our legs for some reason beyond "u needz 2 b a ladee" - like in January, when it is cold. In May? It's about to be June. What sense does it make to stock up on hose now, when most people - probably even in the olden days, when we were proper - would go without hose.

There's nothing wrong with wearing pantyhose, if you feel so moved. I think it does add some polish to a look. But Michelle Obama is plenty polished, and this piece isn't just targeted at Ms. Obama - it's to all of us bare-legged Jezebels.

It's time to stop editorializing like wearing pantyhose is a feminine duty. It's time to stop acting like accessories are natural. They may be comfortable and stylish to some women, but they're uncomfortable for a lot of us. Sing the praises of pantyhose all you want , Breslin - but not in a way that scolds Ms. Obama for forgoing your standards.

Between the victim-blaming, the Friedan fetish, the transphobic name, and the new enforcement of obtuse beauty standards, Double X has about 35 years of catching up to do. Third wave's been around for over a decade now, folks. Let's move it.

h/t to Jessica Valenti

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