Monday, July 27, 2015

Amy Schumer, Body Image, and Yummy Mummys (Warning: link to explicit content)

Sometimes it takes me a few days (or more) to get down to writing. At work, or in the middle of Shabbat prep, I jot notes down to blog later. When we're traveling, I write draft titles to remind me later. And sometimes, ideas strike me on Shabbat, and I just have to hope I'll remember.

Friday, July 17, the National Post had an article focused on eating disorders in the News section. What was different about this article was the age group. Eating disorders are nothing new, though still terrifying to any parent. However, there was a marked increase in the 1970's and 80's. Now, the children who grew up at that time are entering middle age, and taking their eating disorders with them. As the article points out, men are told to "embrace their 'dad bod.'" Women don't have that luxury. Instead, we're told to strive to be a "yummy mummy."

The mortality rate for eating disorders is 10-20%, one of the deadliest mental illnesses. Even with that, eating disorders are sometimes seen as not real illnesses.

Now, everything I read here upset me. I had a friend in junior high who suffered from anorexia. We haven't been in touch in decades, but I still think of her from time to time. Keren and I talk frequently about body image and diet. She worries about a few friends who seem to talk a lot about their bodies in negative ways. There are many women in my family who are as wide as they are tall. Long ago I accepted that I would never be Twiggy. While I wouldn't mind losing some weight now, (mostly because I don't want my parents' health problems), I've always embraced my muscular build, even knowing I'd never fit in skinny jeans (not even as a 10 year old).

I rarely get to the Friday paper on Friday, and last week was no different. As I worked my way through the Friday/Saturday sections, I came to an article called, "The Amy Effect," about Amy Schumer. If you've been living under a rock, you may not know that Amy Schumer is a raunchily funny comedian, who is very attractive and not built like Twiggy. She stars in Trainwreck, a script she wrote. Most of the article focused on her rise as a comedian, but a few things struck me. Most specifically, a comment about her new movie. "In a post called 'Apatow's Funny-Chubby Community Has New Member,' film and TV critic Jeff Wells criticizes the director for casting the 'unattractive' Schumer. Much debate ensues over whether Wells is hot enough to be a critic."

I have a few questions. First, why is Judd Apatow's community called "Funny-Chubby?" Why isn't it enough to call them funny. Back in 2009, when Seth Rogen, part of Apatow's group, lost weight, critics questioned whether he'd be as funny if he wasn't fat. Did his weight effect his acting ability? More importantly, why is it that a woman has to be stick-like to be beautiful. I think Amy Schumer is lovely (Sean agrees. He's always preferred curves.)

Amy Schumer has curves. So did Marilyn Monroe. Amy Schumer also has a biting humour that's taking on accepted norms. (**warning**) One brilliant take is her video "Last F**kable Day," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPpsI8mWKmg. Ms. Schumer happens upon Patricia Arquette, Tina Fey, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus having a picnic celebration for Ms. Louis-Dreyfus' last day of sexual desirability. (The video is filled with explicit language.) It's a point men never reach. This is clear if you google sexy female/male stars. The men's list is filled with men in their 40's, 50'3 and beyond. The women's list barely has anyone in their 30's. Female sex symbols of the past are constantly eclipsed by new, younger women, whereas, men just seem to get better and better. In the video, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus is very surprised she was able to be f**kable throughout her 40's and into her 50's. We're also reminded that Sally Field once played Tom Hanks love interest and then played his mom.

I have to ask, why, when women should be reaching their peaks in careers, settling into their lives, and being ultimately comfortable in their own skin, we need a new attack on women. When will the world actually realize (not just give lip-service to) the fact that real women have curves, and we're all the better for them!