Tag Archives: media

The media obsession with Serena Williams’ body image

I have my dvr set for News One Now with Roland Martin on Tv One. Today they talked about the constant bashing towards Serena Williams when it comes to her body image. Mainstream media and just people in general have a problem with her body. Over the years I have read accusations of steroid use, how she looks manly and other sexist and racist comments. Serena has won 21 Grand Slams and some folks still hate on her. But it seems like the more hate that’s directed her way she just keeps on winning.

Serena_Williams_Grand_Slams

The New York Times had an article about how her fellow female tennis players not wanting to bulk up and preferring to stay slim. The tennis coach of Agnieszka Radwanska even stated that he prefers to keep Agnieszka small framed cause she wants to be looked at as a woman.

The Opinion Page at the New York Times responded to the negative reaction the article received.

When The Times’s sports staff gave the green light to an article proposed by a frequent freelancer, Ben Rothenberg, intentions were good. Here was an opportunity to illuminate a pervasive problem in women’s sports, the old and troubling notions of what a female athlete should look like, and to do so through the views of the athletes themselves. Mr. Rothenberg even had the tennis superstar Serena Williams on the record with thoughtful quotes.

Mr. Rothenberg and his editors said they took special pains to make the story balanced and sensitive.

But by Friday afternoon, many readers were aghast. They were calling the article (and even The Times itself) racist and sexist. They were deploring the article’s timing, which focused on body image just when Ms. Williams was triumphing at Wimbledon. The article, they said, harmed progress in bringing equality and recognition to women’s sports — something happening that very day with New York City’s first ticker-tape parade for a team of female athletes, the World Cup champion United States soccer team.

One longtime subscriber, Lisa Leshne, wrote to me: “Why is this even a story? Why does the newspaper feel the need to talk about Serena’s body type? What’s with the obsession over ‘perceived ideal feminine body type?’” From her point of view, “She’s a champion, she’s strong and successful, that’s the story.”

Serena is happy and has accepted who she is. Women aren’t meant to look the same. We all have different body types. Just because a woman isn’t 5’3 and weighs 123 pounds doesn’t mean she isn’t a woman. Why is the media so obsessed with Serena’s body type? Mainstream media seems to have problems when it comes to black women and our bodies. A lot of times it seems like they have problems with black women period.  Remember Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times article about Viola Davis?

As Annalise, Ms. Davis, 49, is sexual and even sexy, in a slightly menacing way, but the actress doesn’t look at all like the typical star of a network drama. Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Ms. Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series “Extant.”

Even Michelle Obama has had mean spirited comments about her body. Seems like if you’re not blond, blue eyed and stick thin with a boyish body mainstream media will attack you like a pit bull.

After Serena’s Wimbledon win last Saturday most folks were praising her. But of course the trolls were out in full force.  One Twitter follower of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowlings made a mean spirited comment towards Serena.  And Ms. Rowlings was prepared to clap back.

Speaking of Serena she was looking like a princess at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner.

Serena_Williams_Wimbledon_dinner

Serena_Novak

Williams showed just how comfortable she is Sunday when she arrived for the Wimbledon champions dinner wearing a peachy dress, with her hair long and straight. Now, if Williams completes the first Grand Slam since Steffi Graf 27 years ago, the next step for her is to become a role model, a real living, breathing, strong role model.

“That is really an important acceptance for some female athletes, that their best body type, their best performance build, is one that is not thin,” Pam Shriver told the Times. “It’s one of power.”

Goodbye Newsweek Magazine

My subscription to Newsweek Magazine expires next month. I’ve been receiving renewal notices but I threw them in the trash. I decided not to renew my subscription to Newsweek.

I’ve been an avid reader of Newsweek since high school and I’ve been a subscriber since the 1980’s. Use to be a really nice magazine. But something happened last year. They reinvented themselves. The magazine got smaller and instead of news articles there’s mostly opinion pieces in the magazine. Talk about boring.  Even the website has changed and not for the better.

It was announced last month that the Washington Post sold Newsweek to businessman Sidney Harman, who made his fortune in audio equipment.  He bought the magazine for $1.00. Yeah, that’s right $1.00.

The Washington Post Company Agrees to Sell NEWSWEEK to Sidney Harman

As part of the ownership transition, editor Jon Meacham will step down.

The Washington Post Company announced today that it has signed a contract to sell NEWSWEEK to Sidney Harman, a successful businessman who made his fortune in audio equipment and is a well-known philanthropist.

Harman, 91, the founder and chairman emeritus of Harman International, was one of several bidders for the magazine, according to sources familiar with the process, and the deal was not concluded until today, even as some of the interested parties upped their bids this morning.

It will be interesting to see what changes Mr. Harman makes. But those changes won’t be coming to my mailbox anymore. I might check out Newsweek at the newstand just to see what’s going on. But I wonder if the print edition of Newsweek will even exist a few years from now.

TGIF!!!

TGIF!!!  Yes indeed it’s Friday and it feels so good.

I haven’t been here in a while 🙂  Guess I haven’t had that blogging feeling in the past few months.  Anyway I’ve been suffering from the severe summer heat and humidity that we’ve been having around here.  It’s been horrible the past few days.  We’re talking 100 degrees.  This is not my kind of weather 😦  Where is fall when you need it?

Today isn’t as bad compared to the past few days though.   But it’s still too hot for me.  Anything over 80 degrees is too hot for me, lol.  Around here summer started back in late May/early June before the official start date of summer.  That figures.  Add the usual Washington, D.C. area humidity and you might as well fry an egg on the sidewalk.

Interesting stuff going on while I’ve been on my blogging break.  Congrats to Serena and Rafa on winning their Wimbledon tennis titles last weekend.  Back in June it was the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death.  Still can’t believe he’s gone.  I noticed the media is trying to turn one of the ten Russian spies into a media celebrity.  Why am I not surprised?  Even though she along with the others are being sent back to Russia don’t be surprised if Anna Chapman shows up on the cover of some American fashion magazine 😦

Of course the usual crime stories continue in the D.C. metro area.  One of the saddest was the murder of Maryland State Trooper Wesley Brown.  Back in June Trooper Brown, who was off duty and working part-time as a security guard, was gunned down in front of Applebee’s Restaurant after he escorted an unruly and nonpaying customer. The unruly patron left the restaurant and returned about 30 minutes later and gunned down Trooper Brown in the Applebee’s parking lot.  The thug, Cyril Cornelius Williams, along with a friend of his who gave him the gun were later arrested and charged with first degree murder. The murdering thug Williams has a long history of drug convictions and was on parole at the time of the murder.  I hope they go for the death penalty in this case but knowing the state of Maryland they will probably get life without parole.  If this had happened in neighboring Virginia those two fools would be kissing their lives goodbye.

You can read more about the late Trooper Wesley Brown and those who knew him here at the Washington Post.

Tiger Woods and Vanity Fair

Looks like Vanity Fair Magazine decided to go there.  Since Tiger Woods has somewhat fallen from grace due to his numerous trangressions, they’ve got him on the cover of their February 2010 issue looking like he’s all thugged out in a prison yard.

Is this suppose to be shades of O.J. Simpson and his Time Magazine cover?

I read that the pictures of Tiger were taken in 2006 but why did Vanity Fair decide that now is the time for Tiger to grace their cover using that photo?

Anyway you can read the cover story here at Vanity Fair.

A commentary on black moms

I read an interesting commentary from Fannie Flono, Associate Editor for the Charlotte Observer titled Black moms, my mom and Michelle Obama. She talks about the image of black moms and specifically Michelle Obama. Considering that mainstream media and some black media have pretty much shown images of black women as lazy welfare queens, video vixens and teenage single moms, Michelle Obama is a much needed refreshing change.  Yes I know some folks are sick of seeing and hearing about Michelle Obama but after decades of negativity about black women or treating normal, non stereotypical black women like we’re invisible, I enjoy reading about Michelle Obama.  I’m sure the media circus surrounding the FLOTUS will slow down eventually.

michelle_marian3

Black moms, my mom and Michelle Obama

By FANNIE FLONO
McClatchy Newspapers

What I’m liking most about Michelle Obama being first lady is this: She puts on public display an image of black women and black mothers that many African-Americans can identify with, but that others have viewed as an anomaly. I’m not talking about her being a Harvard-educated lawyer or dressing in designer clothes or personally knowing Oprah. That sets her apart from most of us.

But her loving relationship with her husband and her devotion to her children are familiar to many of us who have grown up in black households. It’s the stereotype of the wild-haired, bedraggled-looking “welfare queens” or booty-shaking, single teen moms that gives us pause.

Sure, those people exist. But they’re not who most black women are. The last census showed 62 percent of black women worked for a living (as opposed to 60 percent of white women). The census also showed that 79 percent of blacks and 89 percent of whites earned at least a high school diploma. Nearly 30 percent of each group had some college education. For blacks, the majority of both were women.

It is true that 65 percent of black births were to unwed mothers. But that’s not the same as saying 65 percent of black single women had children. The census shows 39 percent of black women are childless, and 43 percent of black families are married couples.

So the idea of a Michelle Obama-like black mom is not a fairy tale, not the exception. It is the heart-warming reality a lot of us know.

Check out the entire article here.

From scary to adored

Columnist Leonard Pitts has an interesting column on how the media and America’s perception of First Lady Michelle Obama has gone from an angry, fist bumping, Angela Davis type militant to a warm, loving first lady and first mom.  Her mainstream media perception has gone from this:

new-yorker-magazine

To this:

michelle_queen_elizabethii_21

Michelle Obama: from scary to adored

Leonard Pitts Jr.
Syndicated Columnist

Maybe you remember when Michelle Obama was scary.

Surely you do; it was just a few months ago. A fire-snorting amalgam of Angela Davis and Sister Souljah she was, a militant, terrorist fist-bumping sister girl whose hatred of America was exceeded only by her hatred of “whitey.” Or so we were told.

If you remember all that, then perhaps you are as amused as I am by the transformation of perception that has since taken place, culminating in last week’s triumphant visit to Great Britain where the famously formal queen (“whitey” doesn’t come any whiter than that) stunned royal watchers by putting an arm around the first lady. But why should her majesty be any different from anyone else? Seems like everybody has embraced Michelle Obama.

Pollsters tell us she is more popular than her very popular husband. You cannot pass a magazine stand without seeing her smile. Women are gushing over her toned arms and elegant fashion sense, and she’s being called this era’s Jacqueline Kennedy. Then there’s that whole thing of Elizabeth II throwing an arm around her like they were sorority sisters or something, leaving the British, with their arcane protocol governing every interaction with their monarch down to and including how many times one may blink in her direction, well and truly gobsmacked.

And you wonder how anyone ever thought this woman was scary.

And he states this:

One is reminded that to be African American is inevitably to find yourself defined by other people’s distortions and fears and that the work of a lifetime is to make them see you — not the you that they’ve been told, but the you that you are, standing there.

Consider Michelle Obama. Six months ago, she was terrifying. Now she is beloved. If you’re wondering how that happened, I can only say this: It was not she who changed.

You can read it all here.

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