I’ve recognized this trend a lot over the past decade or so. The music industry has a negative habit of – for some reason – continuously trying to *whiten* up their African-American female artists. Does it happen to every woman with a mic who drops an album? No. But it does happen to several major ones. And it’s only getting worse.

Remember when Mariah Carey was noticeably half black? Yeah, neither do I. Because the last time she looked half black I was nine. Her album cover from 1990 shows a somewhat darker skinned, curly haired Mariah. But, as the years go by, she gets whiter and whiter. In 1997 she looks Hispanic and then in 2009, she’s scantily clad in white (as every female singer should be) looking almost as pale as I do, her tight curls replaced with loose waves.

Lil’ Kim’s 2000 album cover portrays her as a strong black woman with a penchant for fine jewelry and a vendetta against clothing. But fast forward a measly five years or so, and on that album cover all you see is her face, and I don’t know about you but I didn’t know who the fuck that was the first time I saw it. She looks remarkably whiter.

Beyoncé, one of this decade’s most revered and talented performers, never looked so good (or so black) as when she posed for the cover of her 2003 album, Dangerously in Love. But her most recent album, 4, which came out last year, shows a drastic change, and not just in the color of her skin.

Most recently, Nicki Minaj’s new album, which came out this week, showcases the rapper virtually nude and covered in paint. But the digital booklet features a downright completely de-blackified Nicki, complete with blond wig and flesh toned undergarments.

So what’s the deal? For one, I’m certainly not the first to notice this discrepancy, and I surely won’t be the last. The DailyMail reminds us that:

“In August 2008, cosmetics giant L’Oreal was accused of ‘whitewashing’ [Beyoncé] in an advert by digitally lightening her skin.”

The ad that they’re referring to isn’t half as bad as the “4” cover. So am I just a jaded cynic, or are the people behind these lovely ladies’ albums aware of a secret (or not so secret) truth that, blatantly put, looking white sells more albums? I don’t know. I’m positive that the photos in question were photoshopped, because all non-paparazzi, professional celebrity photos are, but I’d be curious to know if the skin color of these songbirds was purposely photoshopped and for what reason. I don’t want to pull out the race card just yet, but I do have it tucked safely in my back pocket.


Since last week’s Grammy’s, every blogger, pundit, and angry chick with a laptop has taken to the Interwebs to spread her vitriol over the evil and belligerent Chris Brown. HelloGiggles’ Sasha Pasulka’s article was shared an endless number of times on Facebook and Twitter, and was even reprinted on ONYD. Emily Bazelon even wrote a piece for Slate on how Brown is even worse than we all thought he was. I’m starting to feel like I’m the only person with a vagina who doesn’t give a shit.

First, let’s get the back story out of the way. As we all know, in 2009 Chris Brown hit Rihanna. That’s bad to do, and he should be punished for his crime, which he was, in a court of law, a sentence – I might add – that a legal expert called “a pretty tough deal,” despite the fact that he received no jail time.

The next thing I must get out of the way – and I’m only going to say this once – is that I’m not condoning Brown’s behavior nor am I in any way minimizing what he did to Rihanna nor am I in any way trivializing domestic violence in general.

So now that that’s out of the way, here’s where I stand on this issue.

Chris Brown is a recording artist. It’s his job to make music that people purchase. The only reason I know what goes on (or the media’s version of what goes on, which I’ll get to in a minute) in his personal life is because in our society, celebrities are given little privacy. Sadly, there are probably a lot of men who are, right now, hitting their girlfriends. The only reason we aren’t hearing about them is because they’re plumbers or lawyers or teachers or construction workers, and they’re not famous. I don’t want to know what goes on in the lives of the musicians I listen to (or don’t listen to). I don’t want to know who Kim Kardashian is canoodling with. I don’t care what racist diatribe Mel Gibson has uttered. These people are not my friends nor my family. They are a means of entertainment and that should be it. The fact that the media treats them like they are front-page news is not my problem. I didn’t care about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky either, and I was mostly alone there too. All I cared about was whether or not he could successfully run the country. And all I care about in regards to Chris Brown is whether or not he produces music I want to listen to.

This notion that if one woman is abused, we are all abused, rubs me the wrong way. I don’t appreciate being indoctrinated into a cause without my consent. Rihanna is not my friend. Oh, the pundits say, if Rihanna were your sister, your mother, your daughter, your best friend, then you’d care! And they act like that somehow proves them right. But what they’re leaving out is that if Rihanna were my sister, I would care but I wouldn’t be allowed to be a juror in Chris Brown’s trial. Why? Because when things get personal, people become biased. They lose the ability to make clear, rational decisions. Why would you want to encourage a bias? Plus, I could say the same thing about Chris Brown. What if he were your son, your brother, your best friend? It works both ways. The bottom line is these people aren’t even real people. They are media constructs, musically inclined commodities. We don’t know who they really are. Therefore, when we fight for or against them, we’re really fighting on behalf of fiction.

This brings me to the Grammy’s. The Grammy Awards are a long-standing awards show honoring talented musicians with trophies for their ability to create meaningful music. Their personal lives should (and do) remain irrelevant. I can understand the problem this creates. What if Adele committed a murder? Where does that leave the Grammy committee? Should they rescind her awards? I can comprehend the ethical line. I just don’t think it applies in this instance. Chris Brown’s infraction occurred in 2009. Neither he nor Rihanna appeared at the Grammy’s that year. It’s three years later. Why should the Grammy’s continue to ban him? Did his crime, in some way, cause him to be unable to make music? I am able, in my mind, to separate the man from the artist, and therefore also the actions of that man from the art. I don’t think others can do the same.

As I said at the onset, Chris Brown should be penalized by the legal system, since he did break the law. And he was punished and he did pay for his crime in the way dictated by the judge presiding over his case. The only other person who needs to decide whether or not he needs to be punished is Rihanna. And since it seems that she has forgiven him time and time again and most recently was caught making sweet music with him, in addition to hinting to us on Twitter that she not only forgives him but also doesn’t give a shark’s shit who knows it, then I’d say (as someone who is not her friend nor interested in her private life), that we’d all be better off minding our own damn business. It’s a small courtesy I’d want them to give me if our roles were reversed.

At the end of the day, the media is to blame, for convincing us – the consumer, the listener, the moviegoer, the at-home viewer – that these people are our puppets, that they must make music we want to hear, date who we deem appropriate, and lead lives of idealized perfection. The reality remains that not only aren’t they perfect, but they are more often than not inherently flawed.

A person is not their worst deed. Things are not that black and white. And if the law forgives Chris Brown for his wrongdoing, and if Rihanna forgives him as well, then who are we to demand otherwise? And more importantly, what right do we have to intervene? This is the crazy cult of celebrity. We love to raise them up, put them on a pedestal, just so we can infuse ourselves into their too-good-to-be-true lives, and then act like judge, jury, and executioner, as we stand atop our soapbox, just to knock them down.

There are several types of singles and couples out there. There’s the vomit-inducing happy couple, who love each other so much that it makes you want to slit their throats. There’s the couple who should be divorced, who never stops fighting, making every interaction among others awkward and uncomfortable. Then there’s the stereotypical single woman, sad and alone on Valentine’s Day, eating candy out of a heart-shaped box of chocolates she told the salesperson was for her boyfriend, Astronaut Mike Dexter. Then there’s the busy working woman, yelling a little too loudly about how fantastic and great it is to be single. WHO WANTS TO SHAVE THEIR LEGS?? I KNOW I DON’T!! And then there’s me, and I don’t know where I fit in.

The problem I have in regards to being single on V-Day is the fact that as an obese woman, I constantly feel the (perhaps non-existent) judging eyes of my friends, family, myself, and society. She’s probably single because nobody wants her. That’s the sentence that the voice in my head repeats over and over again. But I hate that bitch, so I try not to listen.

The truth is that there are certain aspects of being part of a couple that I do miss. The smell of a man is definitely high on the list. Nothing gets my pheromones going like that salt-of-the-earth guy smell. Kissing. I do miss kissing. There’s something so teenage about it, so simple. I also miss cuddling, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed sex. There’s something about fucking a guy you met at a bar or at the bus stop that’s way hot – don’t get me wrong – but there’s also something very appealing about fucking your faithful and devoted man. But saying all these things makes me feel like a fat, pathetic loser. The question is, why?

There are plenty of things about being single that I do enjoy. No obnoxious “where’s this relationship going?” crap to worry about; no worries about marriage or kids (neither of which I’m sure I want); no leg shaving or having to worry about whether or not he finds me attractive. Like, does he really find me attractive? And yet, as I say all these very true things, I feel like everyone’s just going to think I’m lying. Why?

The mind-numbingly grating stereotypes that women are fed on a daily basis (and especially once February comes around) have served to make us all go crazy. If you’re single, people want to know why you haven’t found that “special someone” yet. Friends and relatives know a friend of a friend you’d be perfect for. When you’re in a committed relationship, the question is always about marriage; once you’re married it’s all about babies: do you want ’em and how many and when!!??? If you have one child, do you want a second? A woman with more than three kids gets constant looks from peers…why did she have so many kids? The constant barrage of judgment coming at us from all sides feels like an armed military attack. So why do we let it get to us? Because the judgment coming from everyone else is only part of the problem. We’re also constantly judging ourselves. Is this the right man? Am I settling? Do I want kids? Should I have had that third slice of pizza? Much of the time, we are our own worst enemy.

So what’s the solution? I say forget the rules. Screw a guy you just met, have a kid out of wedlock, go to Tahiti with your boss. Fuck it. Throw caution to the wind. I’m not saying be irresponsible; we must always be prepared to pay for the consequences of our actions. All I’m saying is that there is no one “right” or “wrong” way to be in (or out of) a relationship. And if we can convince ourselves that this is true, we might just be able to celebrate Valentine’s Day alone, with a cat in our lap, watching and enjoying every tearful minute of The Notebook, without engendering even a single hint of irony.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I am often – like a retiree reading the newspaper – annoyed at petty irritants. Basically, shit just always pisses me off. So who has ground my gears today? The beloved Carrie Fisher.

I love Carrie Fisher. I think she’s had a heck of a life and come out on the other side better for it. I loved her in Star Wars, I loved her guest spot on 30 Rock, I love her voice-over work on Family Guy, and I love her comedy. She is who I hope to be in twenty-five years: a smart, sassy, older broad. Like a modern-day Dorothy Parker. And yet something she posted on Facebook just really rubs me the wrong way.

As a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers, and after being touted in the public for her weight (and weight loss) and after going on every talk show known to man to discuss said weight and what it’s like to be fat and an actress and blah blah blah, you’d think that she would be more sensitive to the plight of overweight women. Apparently, not so much.

Here’s the photo she posted on her Facebook on February 7: http://i42.tinypic.com/selwg9.jpg
And here’s the caption: How many times do I have to tell you?! I said get up off your ass, not get your ass up to your shoulders. Share the love.

Now, is that funny? Sure. As long as you’re not the woman in the photo. But I can’t help but wonder why someone who just lost 50 pounds, would think it was okay to poke fun at overweight women. Especially in an environment such as Hollywood, where women are judged constantly by how they look.

The other side of me wants me to grow up. It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself. And maybe it’s kind of like how it’s okay when black people say the “N” word or something. Like, she’s been fat so it’s okay, because she “gets it.” I don’t know. And I am a firm believer in the notion that nothing’s funny if everything’s not funny. Because we all know that every single thing that can be considered “comedy” is going to offend someone, somewhere. So nothing can be off-limits or else everything has to be. I get that. And yet, it rubs me the wrong way. Then again, maybe I’m just mad because my back still does kinda look like that.

After landing in tepid water for calling Adele “fat,” Karl Lagerfeld has issued what appears to be a heartfelt apology but what is actually a selection of words probably organized into a row by his publicist. You can read what K-Lag said about Adele in my previous blog post. Here is his most recent statement:

I’d like to say to Adele that I am your biggest admirer. Sometimes when you take a sentence out of the article it changes the meaning of the thought. What I said was in relation to Lana Del Rey and the sentence has since been taken out of context from how it was originally published. I actually prefer Adele, she is my favorite singer and I am a great admirer of her. I lost over 30 kilos over 10 years ago and have kept it off. I know how it feels when the press is mean to you in regards to your appearance. Adele is a beautiful girl. She is the best. And I can’t wait for her next CD.

I’m so sure Karl knows ALL the words to Set Fire to the Rain. So, if he didn’t actually call Adele fat, and he was talking about Lana del Ray (which makes no sense), and if his words were taken out of context, then why is he apologizing? Also, people who lose weight and know what it’s like for the media to slander them for their appearance shouldn’t knowingly do it to others. Oh well. I’m sure Adele couldn’t care less about K-Lag’s insults or his non-apology, and lucky for Mr. Lagerfeld, no one Adele’s size wears Chanel so he won’t have to worry about a backlash of consumers boycotting his designs.

It is an unfortunate truth of our society that women are judged by what they look like and men are judged by what they have. This is why Donald Trump is married to a gorgeous former model twenty-four years his junior, and I’m sitting here in my cat pajamas living in my parents’ house. I’m not bitter (much); I’m just saying.

Having said that, there is something about the subject of a woman’s weight that just really rubs me the wrong way. If you plan on reading my blog regularly, you’ll probably come to know soon enough that I have struggled with my weight my entire life, that I lost 150 pounds between 2008 and 2011 and then gained most of that weight back since last year. You’ll also come to know that this does not detract from the person that I am, what I do, what I believe in, what kind of friend or partner I would be or have been, nor does it mean I am greedy, gluttonous, lazy, slovenly, piggish, unintelligent, or a slob. I’m a binge-eater, and I’m working on it, which is why the following news story hits me where I live.

Apparently, Karl Lagerfeld, famed fashion designer and professional wax statue of Christopher Lloyd dressed up as a priest, thought that it would be pertinent and pithy of him to tell Metro Paris that recording arist Adele is “a little too fat.” His exact words, quoted in an article from Jezebel, are as follows: “The thing at the moment is Adele. She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.”

Here’s why that grinds my gears. It seems to me (and perhaps it only seems this way to me because of how personally it affects me) that insulting overweight people is Western society’s last allowable stereotype. Would K-Lag have said that Kate Moss is “a little too thin”? Would he have said that Gwen Stefani is “a little too flat”? Would he have said that an African-American model was “a little too dark”? I doubt it. Because that would be offensive. But comment on a woman’s weight and you get a free pass.

This notion that fat people need to be constantly criticized and berated into putting down the fork is ridiculous. If someone is a food addict, like I am, then they are no different from an alcoholic. Like a binge drinker, I know what I need to do to get healthy, stop bingeing. It’s not the *what* that’s the problem; it’s the doing it part. This is the nature of addiction.

The second thing (and this is more important) is that Adele is a recording artist. She’s not modeling, nor is she a contestant on a weight-loss reality show (you know, the only time fat people are allowed on TV, unless it’s a hospital scene, and don’t EVEN get me started on Mike & Molly). What does Adele’s weight problem (if she even has one) have to do with her extraordinary singing talent or her recent album or single? Nothing.

And this phenomenon is not new. Last week, Octavia Spencer, star of the acclaimed movie “The Help,” took home big at the SAG Awards, and yet all any of the interviewers backstage seemed to care about was how it feels to win an award and be fat, or be in a movie and be fat, or be fat. Fat. Fat. By the way did you know that we know that you’re fat? Yawn.

Perhaps nitpicking celebrities’ perceived flaws (because, you know, being fat is just about the worst thing that you could ever be, ever) is par for the course. And yet, one can’t help but wonder…where’s my cavalry? When a celebrity uses a racial slur (Michael Richards) or a gay slur (Tracy Morgan) he’s raked over the coals. But call a female fat or focus wrongly on her weight, and all anyone does is roll an eye. Where’s my Al Sharpton lambasting people on CNN? Where’s my GLAAD ad? Apparently, in the wind.

Sure, there are organizations out there that try and promote Health at Every Size and Fat Acceptance, but they are few and far between, and when something like this happens, in which a man (a rich, slim man, who is therefore “better,” even though he looks like a broom handle) says something completely unnecessary and irrelevant about a female’s weight, all you hear is resounding silence.

The bottom line is that unless the woman you’re interviewing is a model, or a diet expert, or someone on Dr. Oz, there’s really no good reason to bring up how fat she is. That is, unless you’re just a flagrant douche. K-Lag, your move.

Last night, as I lie in bed “sleeping” (a term I use loosely, since my sleep apnea dictates that I never actually get any real sleep), I had a dream that I created a WordPress blog and named it “Respite.” The name was already taken but I decided to do something similar since I have a lot to say and very few people who are willing to listen. I’ve gone the blog route before, but I never last it out because who wants to be outspoken when nobody’s listening? But I figured I’d try it again, since for me writing is utterly therapeutic. You can learn about me in the “About Me” section, naturally, and I hope you enjoy what I have to say.

Thanks for reading!

~ A