What Not to Wear: Shaming and Shopping

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article was not formatted correctly. Below is the correct version with the author’s original format.

by Greta Minsky

“We’re helping women find themselves . . . . The women really undergo an emotional transformation.  They go from being really in a rut to wanting to go out and conquer the world.”

Is this speaker talking about self-defense classes, or assertiveness training, or maybe seventies-style consciousness-raising?  Not even close.  Clinton Kelly is talking here about a popular reality television makeover show, What Not to Wear.[1] Kelly, along with Stacy London, hosts the U.S. version of a series that started here in 2003 and is still going strong.  The original U. K. series ran on the BBC from 2001 to 2007 and aired in twenty-two countries around the world, including Poland, Peru, and the United Arab Emirates.

So what’s the worldwide appeal of the show?  It promises its subjects (mostly, but not exclusively, women) that happiness can be theirs, through professional and romantic fulfillment, if they just learn to change the way they dress.   Nothing wrong with happiness, is there?  What’s not to like, then, about What Not to Wear?  How about the fact that it co-opts feminist rhetoric to promote an anti-feminist agenda?  And why now?  What twenty-first century anxieties does the show play to?  Is it part of the cloudy and contradictory concept of “postfeminist” culture? Continue reading “What Not to Wear: Shaming and Shopping”

Rep. Gwen Moore & Rep. Jackie Speier: Amazing Speeches on the House Floor

As House Republicans argued for extremist measures to cut assistance to women, children, and men who use Planned Parenthood’s services, Gwen Moore and Jackie Speier bravely shared their own personal experiences on the House floor.  Their words are a reminder of the dire necessity to have more women and people of color serving in legislative positions. Continue reading Rep. Gwen Moore & Rep. Jackie Speier: Amazing Speeches on the House Floor

Feminism & Veganism

Below is an excerpt of an article originally posted at For the Birds Feminist Collective. I’ve been a vegan for the last five years.  I have always intuitively connected not using animal derived products to my feminist politics, but only recently was asked to articulate this relationship for a symposium at at local college.  Once I dedicated time, thought, and research to the topic I … Continue reading Feminism & Veganism

The Scavenger: Addressing racism and classism in animal rights activism

via Racialicious. We’ve heard a lot about sexism in the animal rights movement, particulary in regard to PETA advertisements.  Stephanie Lai wrote a great piece for The Scavenger which takes a closer look at racism and classism in animal rights activism. Historically, in Western animal rights activism, it’s been considered a very white, middle-class movement. There’s an assumption of a certain level of education, and … Continue reading The Scavenger: Addressing racism and classism in animal rights activism