Weighing in on Jessica Simpson

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imageContributing blogger Mike Alvear is an Atanta-based columnist, author and TV personality who lives at the corner of urge and merge. Find more from him at his blog.

If you make a living selling skinny you’ll get a killing packing pounds.

In the sex makeover series, “The Sex Inspectors,” we ran into a lot of women who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) have sex because they felt so badly about their bodies. One would only do it with the lights out. Another would only do it in the missionary position–so her boyfriend couldn’t get a full view of her body.

It goes without saying that these women, like Jessica Simpson, were not fat.

My advice was simple: Move. Be more active when you’re making love. Become a vehicle for pleasure rather than an object to be looked at. It takes your mind away from how you’re looking to what you’re doing.

It’s advice that Jessica Simpson could use… if she could do anything other than being an object to look at. And that’s the real problem with the Simpson Saga. It isn’t about her weight on the scale, it’s her weightlessness on the stage. She doesn’t have the ability to do anything except get people to look at her.

I know I’m supposed to feel bad that she broke down at a concert, forgot the words and almost walked off the stage, but I can’t. I have no empathy for people who use their looks and ONLY their looks to get ahead. If you forget the lyrics (which singer hasn’t?) then you FIGURE OUT a way to keep going. If you’re sometimes too sad to perform (which singer isn’t?) you do it anyway. Sandra Bernhard once told me in an interview that the mark of talent is to face all these obstacles and put on a good show. That it’s talent that carries you over the finish line, not your body.

There are other women who’ve been unfairly attacked (and it’s ALWAYS unfair) about their weight. But they got through it because their talent prevailed. Oprah’s yo-yo dieting, Jamie Lee Curtis’ insistence on being photographed without being photoshopped, Kate Winslet’s trashing of a magazine for cropping her thighs–these are women who fought back and flourished because they relied on something other than their bodies to make their mark.

Which brings us to Jess. If you make a living selling skinny you’ll get a killing packing pounds. You can’t spend an entire career impressing people with your body and then get upset because you’re well, impressing them with your body. What, we’re supposed to slobber over the tits-on-a-stick look and then pretend not to notice when the stick catches up with the tits?

I want to feel sorry for her, I really do. I have sisters and girlfriends and nieces who struggle against the myth that their worth is inversely proportionate to their weight. Body shame is so pervasive it leaves almost no woman untouched. When Kinsey worked on his famous study he found that women felt more embarrassed when he asked them about their weight than when he asked them about their masturbation practices or if they had lesbian experiences. And that was in 1953!

I believe that what works in the bedroom will work outside of it. If you don’t want to be judged strictly by your body place the attention outside of it. Be a vehicle for pleasure not an object to be looked at. If Jessica wants the attention off her body she’s gotta get it onto her talent. And that’s the rub. Take a look at this collection of “Before & After” pictures of Jessica Simpson and ask yourself: “Can I think of one movie, one song, one video, one anything (vehicle for pleasure) that could take my mind off the startling difference in her body (object to be looked at)?”

If this were Oprah, Kate or Jamie, the answer would be yes.


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