You’re standing in line at the supermarket with a cart full of food. You look over at the stand and let your gaze move to the stands on either side of the conveyor belt and amongst the Burt’s Bees chap-sticks and packs of gum you spot a copy of Star Magazine. It reads, “Brad Humiliates Angelina.”

But can we believe this or is it all just made up?

Tabloid magazines such as this try to sell us crazy-fabricated-negative stories about the lives of celebrities, and women in particular. And sadly we soak it up and believe it to be the truth while in reality 99% of the time it’s all lies that rip apart women’s bodies, lives and even their families.

Actress Ashley Judd has tried to ignore the things that are said about her, whether good or bad. Over time she has come to the conclusion that no one has the right to interpret her life. And besides, the words of others are none of her business. But recently, it’s become too much and she’s tired of having to defend herself and her body.

In response to this “assault” on her body, she wrote “The Conversation” in hopes of generating a new conversation about women’s bodies… a positive conversation that respects women and their bodies. 

According to her own personal site, Ashley says:

“The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of person-hood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.”

The things that Ashley talked about reminded me of a recent segment on The Ellen Show that I saw. Ellen interviewed Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz on their roles in a new movie called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” They talked mostly about the rumors that tabloid magazines have spread about the girls’ “battling” relationship. These sources reported that Cameron and Jennifer were either constantly fighting on set or refused to speak to one another, but the women revealed that this was all a lie. In fact, the two never crossed paths on set because their individual stories were filmed at separate times. What does this say about the media’s portrayal of women? Cameron used the words misogynistic and chauvinistic to describe the media-dominated world that we live in. I’m sure we’ve all heard of a classic cat-fight.

So what exactly is the media doing? Making up lies to sell papers? Seems so…

For example, many reporters recently said that Ashley had “clearly had work done” on her face because her face looked puffy, when in reality she had been sick and on medication. At 43, her skin is flawless and wrinkle-free, but the media can’t stand to believe that this is true, so it was concluded that Ashley had cosmetic procedures done. And if that isn’t enough, when Ashley went up a size in clothing she became a “pig” who was at risk for losing her husband to a second, skinnier wife.

This is all ridiculous!

Ashley has opened up my eyes to a world that fosters the mistreatment, objectification and criticism of women. I find it especially disheartening that women are also joining in this conversation. Ashley says that patriarchy is not just men, but rather a system in which both men and women participate in privileging the interests of men and boys over women and girls.

In working towards a new conversation, one that she insists is feminist, she questions the value of the hurtful conclusions that were made about her own body and says, “the insanity has to stop.”

I say, women’s bodies are not up for discussion, they are not the media’s property and they are certainly not something to be messed with. Our bodies are strong, beautiful, unique and constantly changing. Best of all? Our bodies are ours.

I wasn’t too familiar with Ashley Judd before reading The Conversation, but after I read her post I felt a strong connection to her. I don’t need to see the movies she’s in or read magazine stories about her to know that she is a lot more than an actress, a woman who has introduced herself and her body to the world. Only she speaks for herself and about herself.

And only we, as women and girls, should speak about our bodies.

Katie is a recent graduate of Hobart and William Smith College. She received her degree in writing and rhetoric, so she is very excited about contributing to the BodiMojo blog. She loves all things feminist and is especially interested in engaging in forms of activism. In her spare time she likes to run, bake goodies and spend time with friends.    

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