Books: Caitlin Moran on Princess Culture.

From How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran:

“The books; the Disney films; the most famous woman in the world being, when I was a child, Princess Diana: whilst there were other role models around, the sheer onslaught of princessalia every girl is subject to wedges its way into the heart, in a quietly pernicious way.

“In the last decade, the post-feminist reaction to princesses has been the creation of ‘alternative’ princesses: the spunky chicks in Shrek and the newer Disney films, who wear trousers, do kung-fu, and save the prince. Possibly a reaction to the life, and then death, of Diana, princesses have had to be reconfigured to acknowledge that we all now know that being a real princess isn’t all about wafting around in a castle, being beautiful and noble. It’s about eating disorders, loneliness, Wham! mix-tapes, shagging around, waging a pitched battle with the royal family, and, eventually, the incredible fascination that you hold over others conspiring to kill you.” [p. 300–301]

Sounds peachy! I certainly don’t envy Kate Middleton.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Poor Pippa.

On the Net: Divas Champion = Disney Princess.

After DeviantART’s take on the seven deadly sins in relation to Disney princesses, they’ve now transformed the passive damsels in distress into kick ass babes. My favourite? Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora as a professional wrestler.

[The Mary Sue] Tough Disney Princesses.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Seven Disney Sins.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] More Disney/Hipster Mash-Ups.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mean Girls 3: Disney Princess HIPSTER Version.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Super-Villain.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s Hip(ster) to be a Mermaid.

Image via The Mary Sue.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Embrace your inner slut:

“If someone calls you a slut, there’s nothing you can say to refute the claim because it never had any cognitive content anyway.

“If you try to argue that you’re not a slut, you’re implicitly buying into the idea that there are sluts out there. If there’s some criterion that will set you free, that standard will indict someone else—someone with a higher ‘number,’ or shorter skirt, or a later curfew. So we get bogged down in slut/non-slut border skirmishes over a line nobody should have tried to draw in the first place, and we all lose.

“Even virginity is not a defense against alleged sluttiness. Virgins can be sluts if they dress the wrong way, walk the wrong way, or even instill the wrong thoughts in other people. Some people will convict you of sluttitude because your body is the wrong shape, or the right shape.”

Sluts just can’t win. That’s why you should (as above) embrace your inner slut and join the SlutWalk next weekend in Melbourne, at the State Library from 1pm. I’ll be blogging more about this throughout next week.

Glee’s Mercedes just can’t get a date!

Video vixen VS. female bodybuilders:

“It is not ‘respectable’ to be black, female, voluptuous, and sexy on a stage for profit, but it is perfectly acceptable to be black, female, muscular, and ‘unsexy’. Is this double standard acceptable? Is one profession truly more sexualized than the other?”

I don’t entirely agree with this hypothesis. I think it’s far more acceptable to be conventionally and femininely sexy, as opposed to muscular and unconventionally masculine. Sure, the video vixen job title isn’t exactly perceived as a classy, “respectable” occupation, but neither is female bodybuilding. Society as a whole would much rather see women shaking what they were born with (or, you know, what the plastic surgeon gave them) than manipulating their bodies via hormones and free weights.

The surrogacy debate rages on at MamaMia

“$150,000 Doesn’t Make You Rich. Discuss.” Okay, I will: I come from a family where my mother stayed home with my sister and I, and my dad worked three jobs at some stages. I was very young then, so I have no idea how much money he brought in. But I can tell you, it sure as hell wasn’t $150,000, and we struggled to keep our heads above water week-to-week. We never had savings, we could never go on family holidays that required much travel because we couldn’t afford flights or accommodation. I missed out on all but one of my seven cousins’ weddings because we couldn’t make it interstate. My parents have only bought two houses in their lifetime: the other nine we resided in throughout my lifetime were rentals. I also don’t know how much my dad makes now, but it is a lot less than $100,000, and my mum’s on a pension. In my opinion, $150,000 a year is rich.

“Opposition leader Tony Abbott says the Government is punishing ‘aspiration and hard work’,” with the new middle class welfare breaks. Is working three jobs and hardly being able to see your family not hard work, Mr. Abbott?

How to deal with your boyfriend’s porn-watching habit.

The argument for Pixar movie heroines who aren’t princesses, “from all the girls with band-aids on their knees”.

The perils of being smiled at by a cute guy in a café when you’re not wearing makeup.

Texas’ “10 Hottest Female Sex Offenders”. “No doubt that 4-year-old boy, that 2-year-old boy and that 13-year-old girl are taking solace even as we speak that at least they were abused, molested and assaulted by a hot person.”

Hillary Clinton, brownies and Vanity Fair’s cover line.

The aftermath of the royal wedding and the state of Britain’s monarchy for the next 30 years.

Gay/straight chicken: when straight men insult homosexuality and “gay men insult women”.

“Is Kate Hudson Coasting on Cuteness?” My money is on “yes”. When was the last time she starred in a box-office smash, or was nominated for an award other than a Razzie?

Images via Jezebel, Fashion Fame.

Book Review: Mia Culpa—Confessions from the Watercooler of Life by Mia Freedman.

Mia Freedman really is a brand unto herself. We all know she revolutionised the magazine world at age 25 as editor of Cosmopolitan. Her blog, MamaMia, really came into its own during last year’s federal election, offering a different take on politics for modern women. And she’s now a three-time published author with her own television show on SkyNews!

Of course she credits her husband, Jason, her kids, friends, family and MamaMia team with supporting her and helping run her media juggernaut, all of whom she writes about—sometimes anonymously, but oftentimes not—in her latest memoir-cum-“long, wonderful dinner-party conversation”, Mia Culpa: Confessions from the Watercooler of Life.

A lot of the material that makes up Mia Culpa I’ve read before, I will admit, in Freedman’s Sunday Life column, her blog, and various other publications she makes appearances in. But I’ve been known to revisit favourite blog posts and articles before, so it was very enjoyable to read Freedman’s musings on everything from sex to SNAGS (p. 64–67) to showering (p. 290) to breastfeeding (p. 175–179) to interior design (p. 129) to social stamina (read: non-existent when you have a young family, p. 131–136) to Christmas (p. 148–152) to how many children you want/have (p. 71–75) to the hypocrisy of being a certain-meat eater (“I’ve never eaten things like duck or rabbit or deer because I relate to those animals in a way I don’t relate to chickens—perhaps because many of them were storybook characters. Bambi, anyone?” [p. 145]. Guilty as charged) to Disney princesses (p. 180) to The Secret (p. 301).

Some of my favourite parts existed in the first chapter and were a nice way to begin the book. In it, Freedman writes about grooming standards in long-term relationships (p. 4–12), choosing between your ass or your face as you grow older (p. 13–16), skinny-shaming VS. fat-shaming (p. 16–23) and the pre-requisite rant on unrealistic portrayal of women VS. men in the media (p. 23–32). But when she puts it like this, it’s hard not to see Freedman’s point:

“Pretend the world was full of pictures of naked men. On billboards and the sides of buses, in magazines and ads for beer, cars and deodorant. Imagine there were penises everywhere you turned and you couldn’t escape seeing them every day.

“And all the images of nude men were fake. Every male model and celebrity had had penile enlargement surgery, and afterwards, his penis had been extensively photoshopped to make it look even bigger. So now, all the penises you saw in the media every day were knee-length and as thick as an arm.

“One day, next to a magazine article about a celebrity with a foot-long penis, you read the headline: ‘This is what a 43-year-old penis looks like’. The caption underneath read: ‘Asked for the secret to his long schlong, former male model Markus Schenkenberg insists he was just born that way. “I wear cotton boxer shorts and I exfoliate in the shower,” he shrugs. “That’s all I do.”’

“After reading a hundred stories like that and being bombarded by 10,000 images of men with surgically altered and digitally enhanced penises, do you think you might look down at your natural, un-photoshopped trouser snake and feel a little… deflated? Inadequate? Insecure? Angry?”

There’s also some of Freedman’s fascinating thoughts on being a “try-sexual” as per Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” (p. 241–244), which has been written about extensively on sites like MamaMia and Rachel Hills, and tattoos (more on that to come later today).

You don’t have to be a Freedman fan-girl to enjoy this book; I would recommend it to anyone who happens to be of the female gender, and even those who don’t happen to be but are just looking for some enlightenment on the species.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[MamaMia] Cindy Crawford is Naked in Allure Magazine. And 43.

[MamaMia] I Kissed a Girl. Because I Had Something to Sell.

[MamaMia] Kissing a Woman Does Not a Lesbian Make.

[Rachel Hills] The Rise of the Guy-On-Guy Kiss.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] MamaMia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines & Motherhood by Mia Freedman Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] UPDATED: Skinny-Shaming VS. Fat-Shaming.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “Who the Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

Image via Australian Women Online.

On the Net: More Disney/Hipster Mash-Ups.

Yesterday I promised some more Disney hipsters, so here they are:

[BuzzFeed] A Collection of the Best Hipster Disney Memes.

[Geekosystem] 20 of the Very Best Hipster Disney Princesses.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mean Girls 3: Disney Princess HIPSTER Version.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Super-Villain.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s Hip(ster) to be a Mermaid.

Images via BuzzFeed, Geekosystem.

On the Net: Mean Girls 3—Disney Princess HIPSTER Version.

Hipsters loved their Disney princesses, as do people parodying Mean Girls, as this video will attest.

Combine the two, and you’ve got one of the funniest Disney hipster memes out there.

More to come tomorrow.

[BuzzFeed] A Collection of the Best Hipster Disney Memes.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Super-Villain.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mean Girls 3: The Disney Princess Version.

Image via BuzzFeed.

On the Net: Super-Villain.

Disney hipster princesses are sooo mainstream, ugh!

The new wave in awesomeness is Disney villain hipsters, my favourites of which are Gaston and Belle (duh!) and Snow White’s evil stepmother.

[Urlesque] Hipster Disney Villains Are Way More Underground Than Hipster Disney Princesses.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s Hip(ster) to Be a Mermaid.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] You Can Ring My Belle.

Images via Urlesque.

Movies: Blondes Have More Fun—And They’re Magical!—In Tangled.

The premise of the latest Disney princess effort—a retelling of the story of Rapunzel—is that the damsel in distress is locked away in her tower so that mean baddies won’t be able to find her and steal her supernatural healing powers.

The clincher is that if she cuts her long hair, it turns brown and loses its magical properties. A blatant favouritism of blondes over brunettes if ever there was one!

Granted, the brunette Disney princess has seen somewhat of a resurgence in recent years, with the first African American princess, Tiana, in The Princess & the Frog, Mulan, Esmeralda of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, Jasmine from Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast’s Belle, and even the flame haired Little Mermaid. Perhaps the blonde haired heroines (okay, I wouldn’t exactly class Cinderella and Aurora as “heroines” per se, but Rapunzel certainly kicked some but in Tangled) wanted a shot at the multi-dimensional princess crown.

Other than that, I really enjoyed Tangled. I usually find Mandy Moore supremely annoying, her voice especially, but I could barely tell it was her throughout the movie. Chuck’s Zachary Levi was great as the misunderstood Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert. Unfortunately, I missed the first ten minutes or so due to a delicious brunch and Saturday morning traffic on Chapel Street, however it was fairly easy to pick back-story up at the tear jerking pinnacle. (Will definitely be catching it again at ACMI—at a mere $6, who could say no?)

[ACMI] Tangled.

Video: Beauty & the Bestiality Take 2—Advice from Belle.

My friend Zoe sent me this video month ago, but I thought it was particularly poignant to post here now, given the abundance of Disney/Beauty & the Beast related content in recent weeks.

More Disney princess advice to come.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Attack of the Three Dimensional Disney Character.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Litte Mermaid: Part of Glee‘s World?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] You Can Ring My Belle. 

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Video: Mean Girls 3—The Disney Princess Version.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Drug of Choice: The Disney Heroine.

Attack of the Three Dimensional Disney Character.

So there’s the vanilla damsels in distress of early Disney films, like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

And there’s the first independent princess, Belle, “who enjoyed reading and learning, and who lived her life according to her standards”.

But there’s a new kind of three dimensional Disney character, in the form of the villain.

Now, The Beast from Beauty & the Beast isn’t exactly new (he’s pushing 20 years old), but seeing the process the Disney animators went through to create him in Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairytales (there’s also some featurettes on the DVD, which has been re-released from the vault) reveals just how complex a character he is.

Incorporating features from a buffalo, bear, gorilla, lion, boar and wolf, but with gentle cows ears, ensures The Beast doesn’t come across as completely horrible.

Both in the exhibition and in the curator’s talk I attended, it was mentioned that despite his ugly exterior, the Beast had to have attributes (both physicalthe aforementioned cows ears, and blue eyesand personality-wise) that a beautiful woman of Belle’s integrity, intelligence and courage could fall in love with. (It could be argued that there are some classic abusive relationship markers in Belle and the Beast’s union, but more to come on that next week.)

Elsewhere, in the upcoming Tangled, which is also featured in Dreams Come True, Mother Gothel, Rapunzel’s keeper, is the movie’s villain. However, she and Rapunzel share are more complicated relationship than that of Snow White and the Evil Queen, Cinderella and her evil stepmother, or Aurora and Maleficent (whose appearance was based on Katharine Hepburn, FYI), in that the animators wanted Mother Gothel to be “believable for Rapunzel to love”. God knows I’ve had my fair share of love-hate with my mother, so I think this movie will be quite relatable in that respect.

Can’t wait to see it in January!

[Overthinking It] Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

[Overthinking It] Why Weak Male Characters Are Bad for Women.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] You Can Ring My Belle.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Female Characters Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.