‘If she is a writer of colour, compare her skin to food’
magazine celebrity stories any more.They always sound the same: what she was wearing, and the surprising choices she ordered from the menu in relation to her body shape.
But that isn’t the biggest bone I have to pick about the way women are written about when it comes to their careers. Perhaps you could argue that looks and style are relevant to how an actor delivers a performance (yes, I’m being facetious), but the same yardstick seems to be used even when a woman’s profession has nothing to do with the way she looks.Take the recent passing of Australian neuroscientist and bestselling author of Colleen McCullough. Her obituary, published in begins, ‘She was a charmer. Plain of feature and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth.’ This of a woman who wrote 25 books, with alone selling 30 million copies. Commenting on the obituary,
Stephanie Merritt said, ‘We see it everywhere now, this idea that it’s reasonable to judge a woman on her appearance first, regardless of her talents.’ I agree, as does Beulah Maud Devaney, especially when it comes to speaking about black female writers. As Beulah writes in ‘If she is attractive, tell your readers exactly how attractive, within the first paragraph. If she is a writer of colour, compare her skin to food: chocolate, caramel, raisins, brown bread. If she is white, don’t worry about it; your readers know what that looks like.’ She mocks the prevalence of misogynistic writing about female writers in general but it can be applied to any profession. And remember the commentary about French tennis player Marion Bartoli not being pretty enough after she won the Wimbledon women’s singles title in 2013? As if her backhand had anything to do with the profile of her nose. I understand the inclination when we discuss a model, but when we speak about authors, scientists, politicians, sports stars and even actors, our careers and skills need to be the first and only things that are listed as accomplishments or failures. What do you think about the way women are portrayed in the media? Tweet us
then we go through experiences that shock us into considering new perspectives.Maybe realising that living where you do – and not in a war-torn country like Syria, for example – means you have more to be grateful for than you acknowledge.Thinking about our own situations in relation to others’,often results in a renewed sense of humility and appreciation.How often do you wake up in the morning and greet your reflection in the mirror with dissatisfaction? Is the first thing that comes out of your mouth a complaint? Do you often find yourself jumping on the bandwagon alongside the miserable people who take pleasure in pointing out everything that is wrong with this country? Persistent negativity is exhausting. In a recent study by Michigan State University, it was found that employees who are constantly negative are more likely to become mentally fatigued and experience a decrease in productivity in the workplace.
For some, it may be difficult to start every morning with a spring in their step. Often, bad news is all around and issues like debt, illness and unhappy relationships weigh on us. But these issues are not unique to you. They happen to everyone, and so I wonder: what separates the pessimists from the optimists? I recently became comfortable in a vortex of negativity I’d created for myself. I complained about everything and afforded myself a lot of self-pity because I felt my life should be better.Then someone I love and respect said to me,‘All any of us has going into life,is hope.Why do you feel you deserve more than that?’That was all it took to make me realise I don’t deserve more than the hope that each new day promises.And seeing the glass as half-full really is up to me.