Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rachel Ray, I am SO disappointed in you.

First of all, could someone please tell me when Rachel Ray took over the universe, and on whose orders? The woman is ubiquitous now, like a white Oprah or a Martha Stewart who's been medicated for OCD. She has multiple shows, a magazine, cookbooks, her own line of cooking supplies/utensils, she shills for Dunkin' Donuts, she shills for Ritz crackers, she shills for just about any damn thing (I personally am on the lookout for Rachel on my next box of tampons; the only reason I doubt I'll see her there is because I use natracare organic tampons. It's bad enough shoving wads of cotton up there; at least I can try to ensure they're not bleached with dioxins and grown with pesticides. And yes, I realize what an out-of-touch, coffee-swilling, theory-reading, lesbian liberal elitist organic tampons make me ). But back to the story.

Last Friday, I was watching her show while making my sweet potato pie (in my own defense: the house I live in doesn't get cable, I wasn't going to drag my desktop computer all the way downstairs to watch hulu in the kitchen, and I'm still not sufficiently Zen not to try to do fifteen things at once--I need background noise, and Rachel Ray was the least offensive of my approximately ten options). And lo and behold, she was having a "Human Lab" that day, testing instant-fix beauty products for those pesky problems that zap your self-esteem: flabby upper arms, saggy butts, not-so-white teeth. Now, these seem like equal-opportunity beauty "issues," if you want to call them that, but of course only women were chosen to test drive the products (for the sake of brevity, just assume I've already ranted about the degenerate consumer culture that encourages everyone--women especially--to feel shitty about themselves in order to generate more revenue. Thanks).

Do you know what the product "solutions" were? For the arms, there's a kind of tape you can use to sort of pull your skin taut--suddenly, no more wiggly-jiggly when you go to wave goodbye. But excuse me, WTF? TAPING your SKIN? "It won't come off all night," the cheery product-tester woman said. Um. What makes you think it's going to come off when you WANT it to come off, then? As anyone who's ever ripped off a BandAid can tell you, that sh*t hurts. Imagine a foot-long BandAid. Pass the Vicodin, please. Never mind the fact that you're essentially DUCT TAPING parts of your anatomy. "Oh, Jennifer, you're so gorgeous." "Oh, thank you, Tom, I owe it all to healthy eating, the glow of young love, silicone implants, and duct tape." Why are people not allowed to have flaws any more? As for the butt-lifter, it's called a "biniki" (at first I thought they just couldn't spell, but no--that's the name of the product) and it is, according to Rachel and their website, a "butt bra." No sh*t. Literally putting your ass in a sling. Do people not have better things to do with their time? Am I the only one who thinks this is bull?
"But Anne, when I look better I feel better." You feel bad because you've been made to feel bad (see above). Airbrushed models, a constant barrage of advertising, and the insecurity intrinsic to human existence make you feel bad. You associate your appearance with your well-being because that's what you've been taught to do. Above a certain level of self-care (ie, not looking like a sack of excrement), this obsession with appearance is pathological. I'm not saying it's an individual pathology; it's systemic. Environmental. Societal. A woman is expected to look a certain way; men are too.

If you're busy making sure your butt is firm and your teeth are white and your arms aren't jiggly and your abs are flat, you're not looking at all the things that are actually wrong in the world, and Lord knows you aren't trying to fix them--because there aren't enough hours in the day to care about both. It's not a matter of silicone implants vs. universal health care, or poverty eradication vs. the 'biniki.' Of course things are more complicated. But there's definitely a relationship...and that should have us doing a double-take at the state of the world, not in the dressing-room mirror.

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