Learning the Lessons of Ugly Betty: Real Women Have Curves

10 years ago

For every advance we make in countering the constant drumbeat of messages telling women that, no matter what, our bodies are not good enough and that we should feel shame, hatred and disgust there are many more that reinforce the message.

Hot on the heels of the Redbook/Faith Hill photoshopping outrage (Read posts from ClizBiz and Susan Wagner) and despite the previous positive response to Jaime Lee Curtis' More magazine reality photos and the Dove Real Beauty campaign, we are treated to the latest media message that real women's bodies are unacceptable.

America Ferrera stars in the television series Ugly Betty.  Betty is "ugly" by conventional beauty standards and fat by the norms of the fashion industry in which Betty works.  The clear message from the American version of the show, which started in Columbia and has translated into beloved versions in countries around the world, is that Betty is truly the beautiful one because of her heart and humanity.  During the first season of the show, Betty convinces an insecure magazine covergirl to take a stand against unnecessary digital "enhancement"  The new season of the series is being promoted by a customized version of the hit song "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" by Mika.

Ugly Betty was a rare breakout hit from the last television season.  America Ferrera has been nominated for and won several awards for her portrayal of Betty.  Ms. Ferrera began her career starring in the movie, Real Women Have Curves.  The message embodied in America Ferrera's career is that real women are beautiful.

BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir alerted us to the cover of the latest Glamour magazine compared and contrasted with a recent photo from the latest Teen Choice awards.

In addition to the outrageous manipulation of America Ferrera's body, commenters who've emailed their protest report that they've all received the same canned response from variously named customer service representatives:

Thanks so much for your letter about our October cover photo of America Ferrera. Let me assure you, we did not digitally slim her; as she mentions in the interview, she wears a size 6/8 on the bottom, ten on the top.  You are seeing her as she actually appears. That said, we deeply value your feedback. Be sure to take a look inside at the photos of America and let us know what you think.

So despite the continuing outrage over digital manipulation of women's bodies, despite the continuing praise for magazines and companies who "sell" us real images, despite the positive celebrations of women's work Glamour has done of late, we are still sent the message that not only are our bodies not good enough, that the reasons why we love Ugly Betty and have made America Ferrera a star are wrong, but also we are stupid and our eyes don't work.

Sigh.

Who else is up in non-digitally-retouched arms?

Body image bloggers:

Stephanie Quilao at Back in Skinny Jeans says Glamour photochops America Ferrera cover because they don't like the "Ugly" part of Betty

Anti-airbrushing gossip bloggers:

Jezebel says 'Glamour' Just Loooooves America Ferrera For Undermining The Whole Skinny Blond Hollywood Stereotype It Helped Create.

Plus size bloggers:

Francesca at Manolo for the Big Girl says Hot, but Not Hot Enough

Black women bloggers:

Kellee Terrell at Pop Gumbo says When Photoshopping Goes Too Far: The America Ferrera and Glamour Magazine Edition

Women at the Black Hair Media Forums are asking For real Glamour???

Latina bloggers:

Guanabee says Glamour Asks America Ferrera What It's Like To Be Fat

Guanabee also notes that Some Dude On the Street Pines For the Pre-Glamour America Ferrera

leesee at Hasta Los Gatos Quieren Zapatos notes that Sometimes you can only shake your head in wonder

Mommy bloggers:

Veronica Arreola at both the Chicago Moms Blog and her personal blog Viva La Feminista says Oh no they didn't! and Erasing America

Political bloggers:

Melissa McEwan at shakesville calls it Impossibly Beautiful

And, of course, last but not least, feminist bloggers:

kate.d at cat and twenty (fighting the patriarchy in her spare time) says forget amusement.  this is dangerously close to "breaking the good china" territory.

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