The Tale Of Two Jessicas
I suffer from entertainment news fatigue or maybe ADD. The cycle of pop-culture news stories, which flows from the first time you read a story when your dad finally mentions he heard something on Jay Leno, can be excruciatingly slow. Ordinarily I wouldn’t try to swim against the current and have still more to say about something that’s been well-discussed elsewhere.
But I have to, because of what I read this weekend. Call it The Tale Of Two Jessicas.
I am a big fan of author Jessica Valenti. Her book The Purity Myth is a horrifying examination of what passes for sex education in American schools. I frequent her blog, Feministing.com, constantly, and her new book Why Have Kids? is not only a great read but approaches a fraught subject (including the premature birth of her daughter) with a lot of humour, which I really respect.
So like any intrepid author, she contacts all kinds of news outlets: Would they like her to write articles pinned to the release of her book? Explain why it’s not an “anti-parenting” book, but one that discusses some of the myths around parenting – particularly motherhood - being the most unilaterally wonderful, joyous experiences of all time, world without end?
One outlet – one which, it is implied, is part of the “real news” and not a celebrity-driven publication - wants Valenti to share her weight loss story! Because they’ve been doing so much with Jessica Simpson’s weight-loss journey that readers would really like that! Maybe this feminist author could explain what she ate and when she exercised and how worried she was about her looks!
This is why.
Why can’t we leave Jessica Simpson alone? To make her four million in peace? Why won’t Lainey or Maria or anyone else shut up about this nice girl struggling with her weight just like everyone else?
Because this is what it does to “regular” women. It writes the script for them. It assumes Valenti – or any other woman – has a “weight-loss story”. It assumes this is the most important story being told – that a journalist who has written books about the various pitfalls involved in simply being a woman in today’s society is most concerned with whether she fits into her jeans. If Simpson is the “everywoman” telling her new-parent story, why aren’t we hearing more about how exhausted she is from no sleep? How hard it is to get out of the house with all the stuff a baby needs? Whether she’s worried that people at work will adapt too well to her being away and not need her when she goes back?
Because she doesn’t share those experiences with you, and so those stories don’t matter that much. If you have those concerns, they’re not as important as whether you were able to lose the baby weight along with Simpson and how much sexier you are now that you have. But the more Simpson plays up that she’s “just like you” and gets paid a phenomenal amount for it, the less real, authentic media outlets remember that you might want to read or hear about something – anything – other than the quest for skinny jeans.
Click here to read Valenti’s full story about the story it was proposed she write. I don’t want to spoil the whole thing, but here’s a highlight:
“When I had Layla, I actually lost all of my baby weight that very day! That’s what happens when you give birth almost 3 months early to a 2 pound baby. So chic.”
Do you think Jessica Simpson understands irony?