zendaya

There’s A Bigger Issue Than Body-Shaming When It Comes to Zendaya

Zendaya and Julie Klausner

It was just a few days ago that I was texting a friend and used, “She was giving me Monique ’skinny bitches are evil’ vibes,” to describe a former colleague and my failure to understand why someone I only interacted with via e-mail and social media most days seemed to always have an attitude with me. It’s something every skinny girl experiences at one point or another. You walk into a room of “pleasantly plump” women who aren’t that pleasant. And let me be clear, not for one second do I think all big girls are bitches who have issues with or want to be skinny mini’s. But the ones that do seem to be mentally chanting affirmations like “More cushion for the pushin’” and you can instantly feel the hate slapping you across the face like when someone’s bad breath singes your nostril hairs. It used to be that we could blame the media, cosmetics companies and men for these strict beauty standards that habitually have women defending everything from the arch of their eyebrow to their metabolism, but thanks to the gift of social media we can now take our mean girl attitudes to the internet and insult each other as entertainment for the masses.

I love a good, dark, cut throat joke as much as the next person. When Bette Midler clapped back at Kim Kardashian last week, I had a chuckle or two because it seemed like Bette was coming from a genuine place of comedy and not from a place where she too wished she could black bar her tig ol’ bitties for the Gram. See, the thing about comedy is that even some pretty grave offenses can be forgiven if the joke itself is funny as hell. And I’m sorry, Julie Klausner, you’re not funny. If anything, you seem kind of bitter and a tad bit envious.

If you’re anything like me and hesitant to stan for any comedian that doesn’t begin with “Mindy” and end with “Kaling”, you might be like, “Julie, who?” Klausner is a comic and the star and creator of the Hulu show Difficult People. When Disney star Zendaya took to the stage this past weekend to accept her Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award for Favorite Female TV Star, while we are were all listening to her give a heartfelt speech about inspiring young women, Klausner apparently couldn’t wait to pick apart her appearance (which by the way, my girl ‘Daya was slaying…all day…all night…all damn weekend). Klausner tweeted:

“Zendaya’s ultimate retort to Giuliana Rancic is starving herself down to the size of one of her elbowz.”

“You don’t have to have an eating disorder to attend the Kids’ Choice Awards….but it helps!”

Needless to say, Klausner received a lot of backlash for jumping on the body-shaming bandwagon and even got a little clapback from Zendaya herself who tweeted:

“Do you find this funny? I will write another paragraph to educate you aswell #youreallywannabenext?”

 

My initial response?

1. I still don’t know who the fuck Julie Klausner is but her Twitter is giving me Amy Shumer vibes (you know the girl Hollywood is presently forcing us to find funny) and she’s about as funny as an ASPCA commercial with Sarah McLachlan on piano.

2. It’s NEVER a good look when a grown ass woman comes for a teenager. It just always makes them look bitter and like they start off all drunken conversations with, “Back in my twenties I was so damn skinny.”

But what bothered me about this whole messy exchange what the fact that Klausner attempted to use some sort of half-assed concern for the health of young women to defend what seemed to be a display of her own insecurities:

“I will never stop criticizing celebs who perpetuate dangerous beauty standards for a generation of girls who grow up thinking they’re fat.”

Since when did anyone with a Twitter handle and over five minutes of fame become an authority on health and wellness? It was only a few weeks ago, model Cheryl Tiegs threw a whole Sherwood forest of shade towards cover girl, Ashley Graham for representing “Team Thickness” on the cover of the latest Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

“I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women, because it’s glamorizing them, because your waist should be smaller than 35 (inches),” the former Sports Illustrated cover girl model expressed at a pre-Oscar arty a few weeks ago, “That’s what Dr. Oz said, and I’m sticking to it.”

I’m sorry, but are any of these people undercover M.D.’s testing these ladies’ blood pressure and cholesterol levels? How the hell can you look at someone and make an accurate assumption about how healthy they are? “Healthy” looks different on every woman and something tells me Klausner’s jokes were more about a moment of self-hate and less about any actual concern about Zendaya’s health or that 13-year-old who is a size 10 and contemplating starving herself after watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show.

Look, it’s Klausner’s Twitter and she can do whatever she wants with it and if we don’t like it, we all have the option to unfollow. Klausner was quick to remind fans that she would not be backpedaling or deleting any tweets and that everything was said in good fun. Body-shaming celebs being the go to punchline for a few retweets is one thing, but every evil thought that passes through your brain doesn’t need to be shared. Who hasn’t had a mean-spirited thought after being bombarded by images on the daily of rich and famous celebs with perfectly constructed hip to waist ratios. Every time I see a fifty word article about Kylie Jenner’s new hair color I can feel an insult rising with the bile in the back of my throat, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be tweeted, no matter how funny I think it may be.  Especially when what you tweet speaks more volumes on how you view yourself more than your concern with the well-being of other women.

Skinny-girl shame isn’t more acceptable by default because we feel it gives us an excuse to attack America’s narrow standards of beauty in defense of girls who feel awkward because Forever 21 considers them plus size. Being 5’2” and weighing 120 lbs. doesn’t mean I sail through life on a parade float of acceptance and admiration every day. I’ve honestly had women ask me in disbelief why I’d opt for a one piece over a thong bikini on the beach or remind me to clean my plate as if being thin grants me an all-access pass to high self-esteem that allows me to take low-brow Twitter comments and criticism on the chin. Shaming thin girls doesn’t magically uplift curvy girls everywhere. That’s not how it works. Instead of obsessing over the circumference of Zendaya’s forearm and who does or doesn’t want to look like her, why don’t we celebrate her confidence and the fact that there ARE women who actually like themselves whether they are a size 2 or a size 12.

If there’s more to  to be offended by than comments about someone’s size, it’s the attack on another woman’s”moment”. In her book, “Why Not Me?” my favorite comedian, Mindy Kaling makes a profound observation about the conflict that comes with being a confident female, “The scary thing I’ve noticed is that some people feel really uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves.” And I think that what bothered me the most; the fact that Klausner wasn’t just attacking another women’s waist size, but her moment of confidence. It’s a struggle for most women to like themselves in a world that makes it’s a daily mission to convince us not to and we should stop assuming that just because WE think a woman is beautiful means that SHE feels the same way each and everyday or takes the moments when she does feel like she’s kicking the world’s ass for granted. Whether we are accepting an award on national television, posing butt naked in a bathroom mirror, or finally found a pair of jeans that makes us feel like Beyonce’ strutting on the sidelines of an NBA game, every woman deserves a purely untainted moment where she feels like she is unapologetically the shit. One of the worst things we can do as fellow women is fuck with any moment a woman is truly feeling herself.  Because those moments for too many of us are far and few.

What’s Everyone’s Issue With Iggy?

iggy azalea exploiting black culture

Did I miss something? Because it seems the hip-hop community is blaming Iggy Azalea for everything from the Holocaust to Jim Crow Laws and I don’t get it. Did she open a show in a white hooded sheet on a horse? Was there some racist tweet where she got a little lax with the n-word? Why have we decided that Iggy Azalea is a representative of “the man” and all the ways he has stolen from us and exploited our culture?

If it isn’t Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj diagnosing the “Black Widow” rapper with albinism, Jill Scott and Eve are saying her “blaccent” is nothing but a “big bite”. Damn, I forgot since Iggy is originally from Australia she should be tossing back Molsons and talking about “mates” and “dingos” in a VIP booth at Outback Steakhouse. C’mon folks, we can’t really be that same kind of close minded we’re accusing any white person who dares to rock some cornrows and freestyle over a bass heavy beat of.

If the British aren’t getting their crumpets in a bunch over Nicki Minaj’s Mary Poppins manslaughter of a British accent, I don’t understand why we’re getting in our feelings that Iggy wanted to add some hood twang to her tongue. It seems like as of late our culture feels the need to make these musical artists represent more than what they really do. Why did Beyonce’s last album have to be some ground breaking movement on feminism? Why couldn’t it just be something to turn up to when it’s time to make the headboard bang with your boo. And why is Iggy Azalea being vilified as a modern day slave master?Why can’t we just let the bitch rap? There are plenty of political and social change makers addressing these same issues. Maybe we need to turn from BET to CNN for five seconds and learn about some of them instead of trying to make these music artists multitask entertaining us AND changing the world.

I don’t know about you all, but when I did tune into the BET Awards I was tired of seeing Nicki Minaj in the same category as artists who hadn’t had a hit since Free and A.J. hosted 106 and Park. So when it seemed Iggy was giving Nicki some significant competition, it was refreshing. It reminded me of my high school days when you had Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Ms. Jade AND Eve to name a few. It was proof that just like there’s Jay-Z, Nas, Ja-Rule there could be more than one female rapper killing it in hip-hop, and that more than one could be good at it. At that’s the whole thing, regardless of who writes her rhymes or is responsible for her image, she’s got a decent thing going. She’s gorgeous, she’s not painful to listen to, and “Beg For It” is my shit, actually. She’s doing everything that she’s supposed to so why are some critics making it their mission in life to discredit her?

FanMail: Kevin Hart

kevin hart

Instagram

For this edition of fan mail I’ve decided to depart from my usual sarcastic commentary of ridiculous celebrity behavior and do something a little different.  It’s easy to point out who’s behind in taxes, who’s getting arrested and who’s getting divorced, but I think it’s important to highlight the celebs who every once in a while try to set a good example.

Many of you know when I’m not writing, I spend most of my days working at a non-profit that specializes in parenting education for teen parents.  What you may not know is how much love I have for my teen fathers.  For every 15 students I serve in a class, I get maybe one or two fathers.  Unfortunately, they often feel outnumbered sitting in a class full of teen mothers, many of whom have already adopted the mindset that they are both their childrens’ “mom and dad” based off of their own negative experiences or resentment they harbor from failed relationships.

I’ve been lucky to witness my fair share of teen fathers who are making the effort to break the cycle.  They’re working legit jobs, they’re fighting for custody and they’re going to school.  But when they try to participate in class, as I’m sure in many other areas of their lives, people have already made up their minds about them.  They’re instantly met with confrontation because everyone’s already assumed they’re a deadbeat before they’ve even told their story.  Unfortunately what I also witness far too often is that no one is standing up for them.  Even within my own agency, the number of female facilitators greatly outnumbers the males, and I worry that many of these young men have limited access to positive male influences.

On Being Mary Jane…

You may not be sleeping with a married man, but at some point you’ve been Mary Jane Paul.  If you’ve ever abandoned your standards just to be with a man, you’ve been Mary Jane.  If you ever felt ashamed of it, you’ve been Mary Jane. If you’ve ever done it over and over again anyway, you’ve been Mary Jane. If you’ve ever been judged for that by the very family you’re busting your ass to support, you’ve been Mary Jane.  If you’ve ever had an unhealthy obsession with Post It notes, you’ve been Mary Jane.

I was skeptical of the BET show starring Gabrielle Union that Twitter followers commented watching made them feel “uncomfortable because it was too closely connected to her life”.  After the first episode I even attributed Union’s great acting to the fact the she was telling her own life story.  But by the third episode I was hooked.  Being Mary Jane gives black women something shows with predominantly white casts have been hip to for a while now:  Our very own Walter White.  Dare I say, our first anti-hero.  She’s the woman we hate to love because she’s the perfect validation of the fact that villains have feelings too.

Being Mary Jane forces black women to swallow the bitter truth that the proverbial “good girl” and your man’s side-piece can be one in the same.  Mary Jane is not some ratchet who gives good head and can fry up some chicken.  She’s a professional who’s not only taking care of herself but her trifling relatives as well.  It’s a harsh reality for many black women who rely on the assumption that their man being unfaithful has everything to do with sex, and nothing to do with the fact there are good women out there who make questionable choices.

Pimpin’ Yo’ Personal Life: Are Celebrities Using Their Private Lives to Gain Publicity?

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People love weddings and babies and not always in that order.  There’s a part of me that is truly happy when I witness a celebrity I’m a fan of finally finding love and starting a family.  Even though I don’t know them or the details of their lives personally, some celebrities just give me a good feeling.

When Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker got together I was excited, because for years it seemed that I was watching their sexual chemistry unfold right before my eyes when they co-starred on the Soul Food series.  When Tia Mowry announced she was expecting baby Cree, I was so happy for her.  It seemed like she and husband Cory Hardrict had a relationship that had taken time to grow naturally and between balancing a rocketing acting career and keeping a low-profile personal life,  I felt like things were coming together for her at a good pace. What I love about Nicole and Tia was that I knew them for so much more than being mothers and wives and when their pregnancies and marriages occurred they seemed like authentic life events and not like accessories created to help revive failing careers.  It’s one thing to share moments of your life with fans, but lately it seems that instead of pushing their new album or movie, celebs are pushing their personal lives.

Fanmail: Dear J. Cole (Short Review of “What Dreams May Come” Tour)

Source: DallasNews.com

There are plenty of rappers I’ve wanted to fuck.  There have been plenty of rappers who’ve come out with some hot ass beats that I can turn up to in my Kia during my morning commute even though I clearly didn’t give a fuck about what they were saying.  There have even been rappers whose lyrics left me feeling inspired, amazed and amused all at the same time.  But when it comes to rappers whose character I respect, well I’m not entirely sure if that’s happened too many times…until last night.

I’ve been looking forward to the “What Dreams May Come Tour” ever since this past summer when I rushed to the TLA on South Street after work.  I was hype with my dollar and a dream only to end up walking away with a naked wrist sipping on a Blue Bayou in Fat Tuesdays seeing everyone else turned up with their fluorescent wristbands. I thought to myself, “That nigga Cole stay on his ‘give back’ shit having discount concerts on weeknights.  Don’t dude know I gotta work from 9-5 for my damn dollar?”  I was clearly hating, but I just knew the next time you came to Philly I would have my ass in the audience.  Shit, I’m from Philly, so I was pissed when I learned there were people from D.C., Jersey, New York sitting front row in my city.

So Fourth of July comes and I learn you’re going to be at “Wawa Welcome America Festival” on the Parkway.  I’m like, here Cole goes again with these free concerts, but that’s kind what I love about you.  So I was like I’ll risk my life trying to see you even though I knew the ratchetry I would encounter (I watch the fireworks from Spring Garden St. every year for that reason).  Needless to say all I got was a free Corona from some cool Temple undergrad named Vince, a bruised ankle after a stampede damn near broke out when two dudes started fighting (what can I say it IS Philly) and my best friend ended up two-stepping into some vomit even though I told her ass not to wear flip flops.  The vomit kind of fucked up the night and we left only seeing enough of a view of Jill Scott to know she looks beautiful in red and The Roots when people got excited over Black Thought until they learned he wasn’t Kevin Hart.  I don’t know how you can claim Philly and don’t know about the Roots, but I can’t really blame them.  Everyone was there to see, guess who?  Light-skinned Jermaine.  From what I saw on the blogs the next day though, your performance was great, as expected.

Two times you were in my city this summer and I missed it, so when I learned about the WDMC pre-sale one early July morning, it was the first time I had been on time to work in months and the first thing I bought with that Friday’s paycheck.  And I must say last night was well worth the wait. The rasp that accompanies “Got me up so high, trynna get a piece of that apple pie,” in “She Knows”, the appetite for the mic you can hear in “Rise and Shine” that made me fall in love with you as an artist, the way you can talk about slavery, sex and infidelity all in the same song with no unnatural transition is what had my ass in Orchestra B, Right Center, Seat 26 putting Coffee Coolattas on credit for the past week.

FanMail: Tyler Perry

Source: AlwaysAList.com

Dear Mr. Perry,

Since the days of “Do the Right Thing” the black community has waited for a movie Messiah in Hollywood that would turn water into wine by making straight to DVD classics resemble works the likes of John Singleton circa 90’s when black movie-making was filled with integrity and promise.  So congratulations, I think you’ve filled that role. I can’t help but respect your hustle. But a part of me feels like we’ve waited for blacks on the big screen in quality roles for so long that we can’t spot a flop when it falls before our eyes at 6’5” wearing a gray wig and screaming, “Call the Po Po, hoe!”

No I’m not about to go on a tirade about how the Madea film collection is actually coonery at it’s finest, because the truth is whether Madea is going to jail or Idris Elba is representing positive black fathers, Tyler Perry is doing something that Hollywood has failed to do for a long time: employing black actors and actresses.

I watched Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor the other night (warning some spoilers may follow, but if you don’t want to waste the $7.00 I did on Pay-Per-View, stick around).  Like many of your movies I felt the story was the best part of the movie, but it wasn’t very well casted and I know freshman theater majors that could write a better script.   Also in an attempt to spread a little social awareness once again you attempt to do the most in an hour and 30 minutes and fail miserably.  Between Temptations and the last Tyler Perry masterpiece I tuned into, Good Deeds, you’ve tackled homelessness, AIDS, drug addiction, high-risk lifestyles, love and infidelity.  I can’t begin to care about any of these issues if I can’t even tell if I’m watching a comedy, drama or a PSA.  And let’s not get started on the action-adventure that was Alex Cross. First off, we don’t believe you, you need more people. Second, the best film makers stay in their lane. The people like to know what their signing up for.  Steven Spielberg? Something phenomenal and ground breaking that will most likely refer to aliens. Tim Burton? Something creepy, gothic and animated but probably totally inappropriate for the kiddos. Quentin Tarantino? Violence, guns, murder and some kind of understated but profound comment on society buried beneath all of the blood.  Take notes, Ty.  You don’t have to be everything to everybody although the black community has nominated you Captain’ Save Em’ for the black film genre.  Choose what you love best and do it well.

So let’s tackle this casting problem.  You feature phenomenal actors in your films, but often place them in roles that don’t truly display their talents.  In Temptation I couldn’t even begin to believe Lance Gross in the role of a timid, humble pharmacist who didn’t even turn his head when his wife left the house at all hours to get her stilettos smoked by a guy who seemed to have landed in the wrong film.  I wanted Lance to switch roles with Robbie Jones who plays Harley, a rich man with an ego that could almost be sexy if you can get past what an unattractive cornball he is.  I’m sorry, Robbie but I wasn’t really believing that any woman would choose your ass over the chocolate-covered Sir Lance-A-Lot.

Then there’s this issue of setting the scene. This whole life of drugs, money and sex made sense at let’s say at Def Row Records, but to a therapist at an urban Match.com run by Vanessa Williams…yeah I wasn’t making the connection. Plus how are a therapist and a pharmacist living in a spot that made my on campus apartment look like the Senators Suite at Caesars Palace?  Once again, Mr. Perry, your staging is questionable.

I’m not exactly anxiously awaiting your next box office blockbuster, but some of your work has been fairly decent.  I enjoyed Why Did I Get Married? (the first one moreso before Janet went all ape shit crazy).  I feel like your best work is when you tackle a one or two topics per movie and tackle them well.  You don’t see Martin Scorcese trying to tell the story of the Italian mob, corrupt government and also the abandonment issues and resentment felt by their wives and children…and AIDS…and illiteracy….and  homosexuality all in one film.

For some reason I feel the black community assumes that any work that covers an issue other than drug addiction, the music industry, gangs and baby mamas and deadbeat daddies makes a poignant statement and is “good”, but  that’s not true.  Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever= good film. Spike Lee’s= Red Hook Summer= not so much.  Great messages, but if the presentation, script and casting aren’t there, they get lost.  They say those who can’t do, critique.  I’ve never written or directed a movie a day in my life so like I said much respect to the men and women making moves in that industry.  But I’mma need black women to stop running  back to work, school or to their friends talking about how “good” your movies are, because the truth is they’re about one star away from being straight-to-Netflix potential.  But thank you for giving the black community some work to believe in and making us at least feel enlightened and more socially aware.

Best wishes,

Management