Lilly Pulitzer and How We Shame Ourselves

So, the internet is freaking out today about Lilly Pulitzer because of this image in a New York Magazine article:

Yeah...those cartoons are pretty terrible. There's just no way around that.

Shortly after the shit hit the fan, Lilly Pulitzer sent an e-mail to the Huffington Post, saying: “These illustrations were the work of one individual and were posted in her personal work area. While we are an employer that does encourage people to decorate their own space, we are a female-dominated company and these images do not reflect our values. We apologize for any harm this may have caused."

Maybe that's true. Or maybe they're just trying to cover their ass. I don't know, I wasn't there. (someone somewhere said these images were on a refrigerator in a common space, which I find hard to believe. The stick pins in the image show that it's a corkboard, which implies workspace) But when I saw those images and related them to someone's personal workspace, it seemed really familiar to me. Because while women will definitely (and horribly) shame each other, that's also how women talk to ourselves. 

That's how I talk to myself.

I absolutely spent 20 minutes this week inspecting the various parts of my body that have gotten bigger and flabbier over the last 4 months (depression and eating your feelings does that). I put on a pair of pants that last year were one size too big. This year they're two sizes too small. I absolutely berated myself for being lazy. I absolutely went out and bought larger shirts because I didn't want to wear anything that clung too closely to a body that I'm kind of ashamed of right now. I absolutely was horribly and cruelly critical to myself as I tried clothes on in the dressing room.

I mean - sometimes I'm on the right track. I remind myself that I'm making healthier choices, getting more exercise, laying off the girl scout cookies and margaritas, and that actually, there's nothing wrong with my body, it's just changed a little bit. But there are definitely days where I will look into the mirror and my first thought is,"you are really gross."

Because we do that to ourselves. We do it all of the time. There's actually a market for different ways that we can shame ourselves...

refrigerator magnet...of a pig. Because if we eat too much, we're just like pigs.

cute. it oinks when you open the refrigerator. because we're pigs.

awesome. another magnet that will shame me if I try to eat anything.

and we've been doing this for decades...

Do a google search for "weight loss" and this is the first page of images. Notice that it's all women. 

So I'm not freaking out about Lilly Pulitzer. Rather, I feel sorry for anyone that would talk to themselves that way, in an effort to be motivated. I feel even more sorry for someone whose personal demons were put on display like that, for the entire internet to freak out about. Because I get it. I get what we're up against as far as what the world expects us to look like, and how easy it is to become part of the mob that's telling us that we're horrible, gross, ugly and not good enough.

And to the girl who drew those pictures...if indeed those pictures were meant to be some sort of motivation (which really is what it looks like to me), I hope that she learns to be nicer to herself . The world is hard enough without us beating up on ourselves. 

Sometimes we need to be reminded of that. 

image available for purchase via this awesome artist.


caron said...

Been following along for here during the journey. I believe in the good inner work you're doing. What is life if it's left unexamined?

Rebecca Grace said...

I hadn't seen this yet, but I did click through to the New Yorker article and I totally agree with you. The disclaimer that "these are the personal illustrations of an employee not pictured in this article" is really telling -- because Lily Pulitzer is a fashion brand, after all, and fashion is all about being young and beautiful and thin. Every employee who WAS featured in the image slide show was young, beautiful and thin. Of course anyone who works there who does not fit that image is going to have negative self esteem. The cartoons make me sad for her, certainly not angry. And I'm glad that they were included, because everything else about the article was so 100% positive PR, and that image of the cartoons hints at another thread to the story, the self-loathing that the fashion industry fosters among the many, MANY women who wear clothing in sizes larger than 4.