Having recently seen Kenneth Branagh and Chris Weitz’s recent adaptation of Cinderella, I had some words to say. I had fully expected it to be little more than another pointless adaptation, reiterating the problematic, misogynistic undertones of Disney’s 1950 animated classic. Thankfully, i was beautifully surprised. The film manages to maintain the structural integrity of the animated original, while making subtle alterations throughout the story to make it more feminism friendly. The changes are far from drastic, but rather are more akin to subtle tweaks that alter our perception of the piece.
Yes, Lilly James is tiny. Yes, tiny waisted women in Hollywood are causing issues with young girls and body image issues. However. She is not anorexic. I have seen her costume in person, and it is actually that size. She did not starve herself to be that size, she simply is that size. Much like Keira Knightly before her, she is falling victim to needless scrutiny about her form, and, frankly, I think it’s bullshit.
This is coming from a woman with an almost 30 inch waist, might I add. But body shaming as a whole needs to stop, altogether. Her natural thinness is as healthy as my natural hips and bust. As healthy as some plus-sized models who exercise several times a week, have great blood pressure, yet always seem to find themselves looking a little larger. What we should be focused on is health. Some women are naturally skinny. Shaming them for that – and they do get shamed for that – is as bad as shaming a woman who’s naturally a bit heavier for being that way. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. So long as you’re healthy, not morbidly obese and saying you’re just curvaceous, or deathly thin and explaining away your jutting collarbone as fashionable, then you’re fine. Fuck the rest.
Teach your daughters, your nieces, your sisters, that it’s okay to look however you do so long as you are physically healthy. Eat properly, try and get some exercise on a daily basis, and learn to love and accept your shape. Teach these women in your lives that the women in magazines aren’t always healthy, but they’re not necessarily abnormal, either. Talk to them, listen to them, and help them recognize the beauty in their uniqueness.
And with that, I leave you with an excerpt from my Cinderella piece on Sound on Sight:
Yet, despite this portrait of Tremaine, and despite the legacy of Cinderella (1950), we are, as an audience, afforded one of the most beautiful luxuries of all – whimsical enchantment. Zooey Deschanel has frequently been accused of not being a real feminist because she wears dresses. Women throughout North America who dress without makeup, don’t shave their bodies, or have cellulite in their thighs are often dubbed man haters. The broad spectrum of ignorance that shrouds feminism is something most women deal with on a daily basis. You can’t have kids if you’re a feminist, because you think domesticity is always a bad thing – false. You can’t get married if you’re a feminist, because that’s a form of subordination – equally ridiculous. You must dress like a man or a lesbian (because, apparently, lesbians have a uniform that makes them blatantly visible to society) if you’re a feminist, because they don’t believe in being pretty – stop making a fool of yourself!
Feminist doesn’t mean we don’t like being feminine, or that we don’t enjoy whimsy, and escapism. We believe in gender equality, not gender superiority. We believe in the right to choose – to wear a dress, to have a child, to get married, to be a CEO. We believe in the right to fall in love, instead of being forced into an archaic system whereby marriage isn’t defined by partnership, but rather is defined by a power struggle of the sexes. We do not hate men, but rather love and appreciate them, especially those who recognize us as more than just baby factories, and afford us a level of autonomy that doesn’t divide the genders.
You can find the piece in its entirety on Sound on Sight.