A Moment of Jen
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Thursday, May 31, 2007
posted by Jen at 5/31/2007 03:39:00 PM

Over at my better half's blog, they are live-blogging the annual Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee. Stop on by if that sort of thing is your bag.

Today I got to leave the house! For the first time in a week! Which was good, because my bathroom wall started dripping.

No joke. Out of nowhere, the wall developed these odd blistery pockets which, when poked, exuded water. Then the water dripped down the side of the wall, turning paint and plaster into an unlovely mush as it descended. It was like the wall went out over the weekend and someone slipped it a roofie, and now it has VD, and it's too ashamed to even look at me and it just wants a ride to the clinic, okay, and quit asking so many questions!

Anyhow. George the repairman came and punched a hole in the wall, and left, with promises to return next week. Weirdly, I think the hole is preferable to the weird drippy blisters.

I got a lot of reading done -- new Elizabeth Berg (another website-less author!), Warren Zevon oral history (turns out Warren was not a nice guy, and now I'll probably picture him punching out his wife every time I hear 'Excitable Boy,' which, while horrific, is better than picturing his son having the clear out the stash o' porn that Zevon left behind after his death, much of which starred...Warren Zevon) .

I devoured the excellent Barbara Kingsolver, which has changed my life, or at least gotten me to the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market for some locally-grown, antibiotic-free, organic meats and veggies.

Meanwhile, I've never heard of Beth Ditto, lead singer of The Gossip, as I am old and lame and don't get around much any more (last concert attended? Ralph's World).

Ms. Ditto's all over the Internets because she posed naked on the cover of a British music magazine, and there is a good deal more of her to love than there is of, say, your Amy Winehouse or Avril Lavigne. (Click for the picture -- naughty bits are mostly covered, but like I said, she's nekkid).

The Greek chorus of the Internets reacted about the way you'd expect -- a bunch of "you go girls," a lot of "I just threw up a little in my mouth," a vigorous sub-strand of discussion on whether hairy pits can ever be sexy.

I think that Beth Ditto is brave. I think it's fabulous any time any girl who's bigger than a breadbox shows up anywhere, in any capacity, because we see them so rarely.

There's a counter-argument, which runs that Ditto's cover shot buys into the female-artists-as-flesh thing: that it doesn't matter whether you're big or little, as long as you allow yourself to be objectified by the machine that sees women as nothing more than flesh.

I got that point. I think it'll be a lovely world when any artist, any actor, any singer, any writer, gets judged on the content of his or her work, not the package the work comes in. But, you know...baby steps.

These days, we rarely see bodies that look like Beth Ditto's in the mass media, unless it's some actress ready to do public penance for her weight gain by signing up as the spokesloser of some diet company or another.

The cover's shocking because it's a big girl, naked, in a tabloid-spun, airbrushed world where size tens are the big girls, and practically the only bodies labeled beautiful -- and really, practically the only bodies we're shown any more -- belong to size-zero, teenaged or twentysomething starlet/singers/heiresses, or the thirty and fortysomething actresses who can, through some hellish regimen of diet and exercise or surgery and diet pills, approximate those pre-pubescent (but with big hooters, please) proportions.

These days, Carrie Underwood is praised for dropping from a size six to a size two. These days, Jordin Sparks has to apologize in People Magazine for being five foot ten and all of a size twelve.

Size ten is not enormous. Size twelve is not enormous. But, when all we're ever shown are the zeroes, size tens and twelves start looking disproportionately huge, and healthy, normal girls and women start feeling like freaks. So I'm a fan of Beth Ditto (and I listened to the music on YouTube, and her voice is amazing).
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