September 24, 1996 · Cavalier Daily

Bye Bye Barbie

This opinion article discusses the media pressure on women to be thin, citing Oprah and Rosie O'Donnell as examples. The writer argues that women have the agency to reject the ultra-thin feminine ideal projected in the media and be comfortable in their own bodies.


1996-09-24 Cavalier Daily Bye Bye Barbie.pdf
Kelly Geary
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Bye Bye Barbie
JUST WHEN I thought the whole Oprah Fat Saga had come to a close, a whole new book on talk show host weight issues may be in the works with Rosie O'Donnell. But here is the problem with this new saga: Rosie is happy being overweight. Crazy as that may seem, she is content with her close to 200-pound body.
So who would want to write that new book if Rosie does not even acknowledge the existence of an image problem? As usual, where women and weight are concerned the media undoubtedly is behind the author’s pen, feeding a limitless supply of fuel to the “all women should be a size 6” fire.
But the author who is writing this all-too-familiar book is not the real antagonist in the perpetual image battle. But we cannot lay blame only at the media’s. feet It is not the media's fault women starve themselves to death, spend millions on beauty supplies, get-thin-quick diet books, and try any other possible means of making their bodies fit an impossible mold.
Why can't women take responsibility for themselves and simply say so? The media supplies the images but women accept them as reality. It is time that women looked at an image of a 5' 10" woman with sculpted bones on a 120-pound frame and said, "No. I can never look like that. I can never Cindy Crawford." What makes saying no so hard for women?
Women, like myself, who do not come anywhere near to fitting model standards of beauty, have been unable to say no to the barrage of images like the one above for reasons that date back generations. It is impossible to pinpoint the date when our society accepted the idea that how a woman looked was more important than what she thought. But it is undeniable that this is a fact of life.
Case in point: Marcia Clark, the infamous Deputy District Attorney in the even more infamous O.J. Simpson rial. What got more air time and newsprint space, her legal prowess or her hairdo? Her arguing ability or her parenting ability? Her professional career or her romantic interludes? Clark’s bruised media image is a prime example of what happens to a woman when she flexes too much intellectual muscle in the national spotlight. Well, at least she got a book deal out of it.
Rosie O’Donnell, however, is an intellectual lightweight compared to Marcia Clark. Rosie’s show is all about fun and games. She would rather sing “Muskrat Love” than discuss grave injustices and societal problems. But even with all her positive insights and endless joking, she still is a prime target in the media’s image war.
Why can’t the media accept Rosie as a talented performer and talk-show host without degrading her because she is not thin? Rosie has Oprah to thank for much of that undue attention. Following on the heels of a fellow daytime diva whose weight daily rags pursue religiously, Rosie has found herself in an unwanted media glare.
With all that national attention, the question remains whether Rosie will allow the daytime fat saga to continue. Will the much anticipated Rosie O’ Sweats to the Oldies be written? My intuition tells me there is not a chance, not even a slim one, that this book ever will come to life.
Why not, you may ask? Oprah has co-authored two best-selling books in the last two years focusing on her battle of the bulge; why shouldn't Rosie? Oprah has made millions off her fat, or present lack thereof, so why should Rosie decline on those seven-digit book deals?
Her simple answer defies all logic and reasoning power of our media-based, image-saturated society. Rosie is fat and happy, two adjectives you probably thought would never go together in describing a woman. But like the M’s on one of her favorite candy snacks, Rosie's healthy attitude towards her image and weight go hand in hand.
So as long as Rosie remains aloof to all the images portraying her as less of a person because she carries more around her person, no book deals will be made and the daytime fat saga will come to a close.
Perhaps the eagerly awaited conclusion to that saga will shed some light on the realistic and simple way women should view themselves. Oprah is thin. Rosie is not. Oprah works out three hours a day. Rosie does not. Oprah eats fat-free fried chicken. Rosie is a Kentucky Fried Chicken preferred customer. Oprah is happy. Rosie is happier.
(Kelly Geary’s column appears Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily.)
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Date Added June 12, 2016
Date Modifed December 24, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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