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Meet American Apparel’s New Plus-Sized Models

UPDATE: Duh, read Nancy’s blog. She’s mocking American Apparel and the whole contest. So now I can 100% say: Nice work! I am behind it, ranch dressing cumshots and all.
Nancy Upton crouching in a blue checkered bra with a cherry pie between her legs.

American Apparel is having a plus-sized model contest. The current front-runner is named Nancy, she is a size 12, and she is pretty hot. Good on American Apparel, sort of, for not just using skinny hipsters to model their clothes — fat girls are hipsters too! But it’s American Apparel, so of course a lot of the big-girl photos have that same Terry Richardson / borderline-kiddie-porn-in-grandparents’-basement aesthetic that I waver between hating because it’s gross and hating because it’s so played out. (It’s worth noting, of course, that these photos are self-submitted and not actually taken by American Apparel).

But here’s the thing with Nancy’s photos: They aren’t that same “Oops you caught me being sexy in a lace ankle-length body suit all by myself! I’m so surprised!” thing (alternately: “Oh hello, here is my butt, I hope you like it because I am going to injure my lower back standing like this all of the time“). Nancy’s not just pushing out her good bits; she’s eating or otherwise hanging out with food in all of the photos. And like, really eating — chocolate sauce dripping down her face, laying in a bathtub of ranch dressing, etc. Which on one hand is kind of subversive and awesome — fat chicks are not really supposed to even be visible, let alone take serious pleasure in eating food. It’s cute when a teeny-tiny actress tucks into a giant burger, but it’s not so acceptable for someone whose body might be featured, headless, on the nightly news to illustrate the American Obesity Crisis. And it’s awesome that her website tagline is “I can’t stop eating” — there’s so much pressure to be a Good Fatty who exercises and eats healthily and doesn’t over-eat like all of the Bad Fatties that it’s refreshing to see a fat girl being like, “Yup, I like food, ok.” So first reaction is, “Fat girl eating in a sexy ad? Yes please!”

Oh but then.

Read More…Read More…

I Wanna Be a Billionaire So Freakin’ Baaad

If you’re an aspiring billionaire (I mean, aren’t we all?), I’m sure you’re obsessing over Forbes’ list of billionaires, studying it meticulously and figuring out how you can make the cut. If you’re a woman, your role models are somewhat limited as there are only about 100 women on the list, out of over 1,200.

But there are some cool findings nonetheless…

    One woman managed to crack the top 10: Christy Walton, of what we’ll call the Walmart dynasty. (Fellow Walmart royalty Alice Walton isn’t far behind her at #21.)

    Two Indian women made the list: Savitri Jindal in the steel industry and Indu Jain, who’s in media.

    There are six 20-somethings on the list, including Yang Huiyan from China, whose fortune comes from real estate.

    Oprah’s still on the list (duh), tied at 420 with some other folks worth $2.7 billion. They list “television” as the source, reminding us that she is not, in fact, the queen of the world.

I’m not sure I really learned anything from the list other than find a Walton heir to the Walmart dynasty. Well, that, and the realization that I’ve never ever aspired to be a billionaire. (Shocker, right?)

It pays to be thin

And if you’re a woman, it pays to be very thin.

We have posted before on how obese women have a far harder time climbing the career ladder than their slimmer female counterparts, while men actually improve their chances of reaching the corner office when they gain weight.

Now, a new study goes a step further by showing that employers seem to treat women exactly the way the fashion industry does – by rewarding very thin women with higher pay, while penalizing average-weight women with smaller paychecks. Very thin men, on the other hand, tend to get paid less than male workers of average weight. Men earn more as they pack on the pounds – all the way to the point where they become obese, when the pay trend reverses.

The study is the first look at the effects of being very thin on men vs. women. Separate studies of 11,253 Germans and 12,686 U.S. residents led by Timothy A. Judge of the University of Florida found very thin women, weighing 25 pounds less than the group norm, earned an average $15,572 a year more than women of normal weight. Women continued to experience a pay penalty as their weight increased above average levels, although a smaller one — presumably because they had already violated social norms for the ideal female appearance. A woman who gained 25 pounds above the average weight earned an average $13,847 less than an average-weight female.

Men were also penalized for violating stereotypes about ideal male appearance, but in a different way. Thin guys earned $8,437 less than average-weight men. But they were consistently rewarded for getting heavier, a trend that tapered off only when their weight hit the obese level. In one study, the highest pay point, on average, was reached for guys who weighed a strapping 207 pounds.

Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis

This article by EJ Graff is a fascinating look into international adoption practices. It pulls the cover back on the myth that there are thousands upon thousands of adoptable babies in the world, just waiting to be saved from poverty and abandonment. In fact, international adoption operates very much on the gray market, with babies being procured like products through coercion, bribery and sometimes out-right stealing. As certain countries are positioned as adoption “hot-spots” — trendy or easy places from which to adopt a child — and unethical practices flourish, the reaction from the U.S. government is often too little too late.

According to these internal documents, the State Department was confident it had discovered systemic nationwide corruption in Vietnam — a network of adoption agency representatives, village officials, orphanage directors, nurses, hospital administrators, police officers, and government officials who were profiting by paying for, defrauding, coercing, or even simply stealing Vietnamese children from their families to sell them to unsuspecting Americans. And yet, as these documents reveal, U.S. officials in Hanoi did not have the right tools to shut down the infant peddlers while allowing the truly needed adoptions to continue. Understanding how little the State Department and USCIS could do, despite how hard they tried, helps reveal what these U.S. government agencies need to respond more effectively in the current adoption hot spots, Nepal and Ethiopia — and in whatever country might be struck by adoption profiteering next.

This summary of 10 adoption cases in Vietnam illustrates the situation — and it’s disturbing. Adoption can be a great thing, and there are certainly many children in need. But when there’s a demand by wealthier nations for children from poorer ones, the poorer ones are under a lot of pressure to meet that supply. The practice of simply cutting off adoptions doesn’t get the root of the problem.

Take Control Over Your Financial Life

No, sir, I have no experience but I’m a big fan of money. I like it, I use it, I have a little. I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator. I’d like to put more in that jar. That’s where you come in.

If you’re in New York, there’s a great workshop on Monday September 27th about how to get your finances in order. Financial matters can feel overwhelming to a lot of people (or just boring). For people who freelance or who work in media, money can be even more fraught — we typically aren’t salaried, we often live paycheck to paycheck, we have to negotiate rates and contracts, and our monthly income can be highly volatile. This workshop focuses specifically on the challenges that women in media face, and offers tools to organize your financial life.

The event is Monday, September 27, 7pm-9-pm, at Hive 55, 55 Broad St in Manhattan. The details:

Do you want to take charge of your personal finances but find the topic of money boring or overwhelming? Then this event is for you.

Personal finance expert Manisha Thakor has designed this presentation to help women in media (freelancers too) put ourselves in the driver’s seat of our financial lives. Good personal finance habits do not have to be complicated, and Manisha will demystify money with this talk. Specifically she will discuss:

* Earning money: Best practices for negotiating contracts
* Spending money: Simple tools for budgeting and managing your monthly expenses on a volatile income stream
* Saving & investing: Common myths about savings and how to (literally) invest like the best using low cost mutual funds
* Protecting yourself: How to handle those tricky cash and coupling issues

It sounds like a great event, and it’s only $5. Register here.

Toeing the Line

Christian Louboutin nude peep-toe shoes

The big new issue facing female lawyers today: Peep-toe shoes.

Yes, the legal blogs are in a tizzy over the question of whether women should or should not wear peep-toe shoes to court, because said shoes may be “provocative.” (To which I say: Better provocative clothing items, please). As is the case whenever women’s work attire is brought up, there is no consensus on what is or isn’t appropriate. Some judges think it’s fine if women wear peep-toe pumps — they wear peep-toes too! Some other judges think it’s inappropriate! Some people on the internet think toes are too sexy to be shown! Some people on the internet think it’s ok to wear peep-toes, but not full-frontal (full frontal!) open-toes! Some people on the internet worked with This One Woman who wore this one Totally Inappropriate Sexy Thing! Some people on the internet think I should make them a sandwich! Other people on the internet think this whole conversation is inane!

…and I am in that last camp. If you are spending hours of your life arguing that women should not wear peep-toe shoes to court or to the office, I would suggest taking up a hobby, or perhaps volunteering somewhere. You will never get those hours of your life back! You could have spent them playing with puppies (I hear the ASPCA does good work), and instead you were debating the relative provocativeness of toenails as compared to toe-cleavage. Because, really, women in the law have bigger issues to worry about than whether another attorney or a juror or a commenter on Above the Law is going to think we’re unprofessional floozies who “risk losing credibility and respect” because our toenail polish is visible.

Bigger issues like, “Can I wear a sleeveless top to the office when it is 105 degrees outside?” (Answer: No. Says the lady in the sleeveless top).

The Master’s Publishing House

[UPDATE: I will not be submitting the anthology to Seal Press, so the question asked in this post has been answered. Read the comments for more details.]

In working on the anthology I’m editing/contributing to, Occupied Bodies: Women of Color Speak on Self-Image, an issue has come up over whether or not I should include a particular independent publisher who has had serious problems with issues involving POC on my list of publishers to solicit for publication. I had heard about certain issues with this publisher before, but I decided to go ahead and submit to them, because I was interested in how they’d respond since they’d expressed negativity towards the marketability of WOC anthologies before.

Recently, I expressed my intention to include this particular publisher on the list to a potential writer, who was wary of the idea. I wondered why, although I did already know about the negativity expressed, I figured there must be something else because she was very put off. So I did some research and found that there had been a particularly offensive incident involving a popular white feminist blogger’s book that was published by them and racist imagery that had been used in the book (without the author’s instruction). In addition, this blog was involved. I wasn’t really surprised, because I’m never surprised anymore when white feminists and white feminist groups who claim to be allies “go rogue” and do something that harms women of color. In any case, I decided that I wouldn’t submit to them if it was going to scare off writers.

Since I made that statement, I’ve been mulling it around in my head, and talking to other WOC bloggers, and now I’m really not sure what to do. I don’t want to reopen old wounds, but am I limiting the ability of this work — which I consider important, because women of color’s voices need to be heard on this topic — to get to publication by limiting who I send it to? Does it matter in the end who publishes it as long as our voices get out there? Should I take the moral high ground and risk losing our chance to disseminate the work into the mainstream? When do you forgive and forget?

I feel like, in these spaces that are dominated by white feminists, we as women of color are expected to overlook a LOT. We’re given apologies that are half-assed and we’re supposed to accept them. We get slighted on a regular basis and we’re supposed to give that a pass because it wasn’t intentional. A large feminist blog with say, 12 white contributors adds one of color and we’re supposed to hail “representation”. When do we stop overlooking things? And when do we continue overlooking because it’s necessary for OUR success?

It’s important to me to get this anthology to print, but I don’t want to support racism that happens again and again. Should I take that high ground when it hurts me more than it hurts them? In taking that high ground, am I really doing them a disservice at all or am I making it easier on them? I’m full of questions and short on answers.

What do you think?