A Natural Hair and fashion lifestyle blog based in Sonoma County, in the heart of Wine Country. Amber serves up inspiration for winery tourism, vegetarian recipes, style, and skincare.

Smart is Sexy Sunday's: The Female Image

Today's Smart is Sexy Sunday's post was originally going to be about etiquette. Then while perusing around Barnes and Nobles, I stumbled across a magazine cover that instantly made me angry. That's when I decided that this post was going to be about the female and her image in media today. 

In college, I took a class titled Women Artists. We studied Camille Claudel, Leonor Fini, Cindy Sherman and so many others (these three just so happen to be my heroes). I remember how angry I felt when I learned of Rodin and his Camille. How I identified with Cindy Sherman and her "message of feminism", and how guilty I felt when I realized that I referred to male artists by their last name, and to female artists by their first (art history books do it all the time).

I typed in "female image" into Google, and this is what I got

I remember sitting in class and thinking "What is this deep injustice in the world? Why are women treated so sub-par? Why is this still an issue?" Yet years after college, and nearly four years after our country showed the world that we could look past skin color when it came to electing a president, "bitch" -a female breeding dog - is still a word that is used by highly regarded media to describe a woman.  I now find myself asking "Are we as women, our own worst enemy?" 

I mean hell - look at Anna Wintour. Would you describe her as the warm, and nurturing soul of Vogue? Should she be described as one because she is a woman? Should she be considered any less of a woman because we (the media) want her to have a nurturing, motherly image but doesn't? If women behaved the way the media would have us want them to behave, would any woman be in any position of power? (I would venture to say no, because that "woman" wouldn't want it.)

We still live in a world where a woman is judged not entirely by her education, her status in her community, or her intellect. Who's fault is that? After much thought and introspect, I've found my answer. The fault is mine. I take full responsibility. If the Editor in Chief of a widely circulated and well known magazine who just so happens to be a woman can put this on her front cover:

Then I know that I as a woman, have done something terribly awry. Now the question is, what do I do to change this? How do I speak up to let others around me know that this is something I will no longer tolerate? That media images that glorify rape, child-like pornography (disguised as perfume ads), eating disorders, and sexual abuse is not okay? It's not okay with me! It never was! If this is something that I am so against, then someone please tell me how images such as these and the brands that they represent ended up in my home, on my computer, on my phone, and on my wishlist? 

I don't pretend to have all the answers. I'm not even calling for a boycott. However what I am saying is that I do have a lot of thinking to do. I never meant for things to go this far - for the female image to become so low - for women to be treated as sex objects that you can order online - as childlike and objectified playthings. Did you?



  1. Amber,I totally second you on this one. I have grown up watching older women bound to stereotypic behaviour and gender oriented roles,never given equal rights...never.
    We talk of equality of all but that is something which is hardly put into real use. I do agree that it is we women who cannot come out of those lines and we are our own enemies. I have heard women use the term "bitch" more often than men!!

  2. A great post! I read all that you said in there and it's amazing! The same happened with Anais Nin and Henry Miller. The critics say that he inspired her, when it could be the other way. I stand up for women, but not for less intelligent ones that prefere to lose their integrity just for being in a relathionship. And for sure you know those type of girls that do only what the husband say...

  3. It is so difficult for me to think about this issue because I have the same dilemma as you, I think. I hate the way that women are represented in society, but I feel like I don't contribute to helping the fight against that image. How is it possible to fight against it, though, when it is so ingrained in us? I use the word "bitch" all the time - both as a positive and a negative word. I judge some people based on physical appearance, even though I try not to. I fight for equal wages in the workplace and equal treatment of the sexes.
    It sucks. It really sucks. It is just one of those bad situations that females are in, and no one has the answers for how to solve it.

    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  4. I love this post! It really is so sad. I think it's extra difficult for women, because men want us to be sexy and WE want to be sexy, but then how do we balance between wanting to be sexy and feeling like we are just an object of sexuality? I feel that the message for women to not be afraid of sexuality and then women not enhancing an objectification problem are almost two colliding feminist ideas that I struggle with! Thank you for bringing this up...such a great issue to think about.


  5. I love this post (read it three times) because it speaks to womens' issues, something in which I've become increasingly interested the past few years. But before I talk about it I want to say this first.

    I've grown to have what I feel is a good sense of you in a short time. It's been very obvious all along what you stand for Amber; equal and fair treatment for all. Not privilege or favour for women, but to be treated with the same respect that men receive. I feel you're being unfairly harsh on yourself. You're not promoting rape, child-like pornography, eating disorders or sexual abuse by publishing images and/or brands on your site any more than you'd advocate violence by watching an action flick. If you disagree with me that's fine, the answer in that case would simply be to take a different approach on what you decide to feature. AM is your baby.

    Here are my thoughts on the rest.

    I love women. I adore them, I admire them, I thank God for them. I celebrate the female form and feel no shame in physical attraction and any related thoughts that swirl around in this tiny man-brain of mine; women, like men, are sexual beings. However it's very important that society learns to differentiate between seeing females as sexual vs objectifying them. Women have to be seen as more than just a physical entity.

    As a male I can't argue that women are sexualized by today's media. It's rampant. I'm encouraged to see stronger and more empowered female roles on TV and film, I think it's a move in the right direction. But it takes little more than a passing glance through print ads or commercial spots to realize we still have a long way to go. The visual images we're bombarded with daily feed and shape the male perception of what a sexy woman "should" look like; it not only sends a dangerous message to today's impressionable young girls that thin is in, but progressively erodes the esteem of "older" women who have left those teen and twenty-something circles. Our society is most definitely youth-oriented.

    Back to your blog. You have a base of 200+ followers, and I would say close to that number again in casual readers. You always have something to say and people listen, I see this as an excellent venue to present young women with more posts that promote body-positive thinking and positive self-image.

    Whatever direction you decide to take, please don't lead yourself to believe you're doing yourself, your readers or girls in general a disservice. Amber's Mouthwash is a celebration of womanhood. You're happy in your own skin, you encourage others to feel the same and it shows. Imagine how I'd feel about this site if I were a woman.

    Keep being amazing,

    ~ B

  6. Hey Amber, I like this style of soul-searching and discourse about meaningful topics. I hope that it becomes a regular feature on your blog.

    It's funny how a successful man in business will have both a career and family to go with it, yet a woman often has to choose either or. Never usually both.

    I have to say sexual politics in America are better than most other places. I was in Dubai once and the guy whose house we were at treated his wife like a vending machine.

  7. Extremely interesting post. I loved it.

    I agree so much with everything you have to say that it's hard to even find anything to add. But I'll say this...

    As someone who has spent 10 years in the business world, it amazes me how far women still have to go to get past all of these biases. Just off the top of my head: I've seen women hired based upon their looks and/or age, while men are hired based on their resume. Male VPs often fill their staff level positions with females and their managerial level positions with males. Men who claw their way to VP level positions are seen as "aggressive" and/or "driven". Women who do the same are seen, as you say, as "bitches". Women of child-bearing age often get passed over for promotions because potential maternity leave is seen as too risky. Like I said, just a few examples.

    As a male, I recognize all of these "advantages" that I have. But they're ones I'd never ask for, nor do I want them...

  8. We really are our own worst enemy. I don't like it when some women refer to each other as a bitch. But when I'm upset, I usually use the word bitch to describe a woman that has wronged me. I feel like all women (including myself) need to try and show more respect for each other. If the media won't show us respect, at least we can.

    This is one of the reasons why I stopped watching TV. I couldn't stand the way women were portrayed and how stupidly we fall for a "funny" commercial even if it's morally wrong. This type of stereotyping, dumbing down, and "role playing" for women is also seen in hispanic television. I CANNOT stand Mexican soap operas. Every single one of those actors and actresses is helping to portray women as weak, overly sexual creatures that will do anything for a buck...unless their man tells them otherwise. It makes me so sick. I'm focusing more on the hispanic soap operas because that's what I grew up watching, but this problem also exists here too obviously.

    Anyway, enough with my ranting. I really enjoyed this post.


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