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May 27, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

Feministing: Women of The View: Dissecting Their Looks

By BETHANY | Published: MAY 22, 2012

First of all I’d like to say there are many things that annoy me about The View. Barbara Walters and the way she constantly tells Elizabeth how perfect she is for being skinny and blonde, or her antiquated views on various issues, well, I could go on and on.

But one thing that bothers me most is the fact that people always choose to criticize their looks when they want to tear down these women. There is plenty of material to work with besides their looks. Elizabeth’s shrieks, Whoopi’s defense of some men that shouldn’t be defended, Joy’s jokes, some of which aren’t funny, there’s plenty to work with.

But the fact that people always attack their looks first really says something about women who choose to gather and express their opinions, however clumsily some of those opinions are expressed. After all, plenty of male pundits make fools of themselves on a regular basis. They are attacked for the substance of what they say most of the time. If a man is really overweight he’ll get some occasional flack for that, but mostly its the exception not the rule.

I think of Saturday Night Live, where Fred Armisen always has to make of fun of Joy’s looks, or the recent roast of Betty White where one comedienne remarked that being the “pretty one” on The View doesn’t mean much, and Ann Coulter’s remark that she feels pretty in contrast to all of the other women she sat with. I’m not saying women can’t value themselves for more than how they look but when women who express opinions are always lambasted for their looks and men of commensurate attractiveness and age ranges are not, it makes me a little sad.

Why do the women of The View have to be pretty? They’re not singers, dancers, models, lead actresses (well not anymore), or reality television stars. They just talk about cultural and political issues like many men who also sit around tables to discuss topics of interest. When people want to make fun of Bill O’Reilly, do they say, “Wow, that’s not true, and it’s xenophobic!” or do they say, “Bill, look at yourself, you’re an old, balding man with a funny nose. What right do you have to talk about A, B, or C?”

Here’s what also makes my blood boil. It shows just how much we idealize the way women should look when we try to call the women of The View hags. Sherri is an attractive woman by the standards of women you see in daily life, picking up groceries and going to work. The same for Elizabeth. Barbara was a an young attractive woman, and now she is older. People get older. It does not make her ugly. Joy and Whoopi are average looking women who are now older. And you may wonder why I make a point to say where I think all of these women fit, if looks don’t matter, but it is a component to how warped our ideas of beauty are. This is a fairly normal representation of what women look like,  but they’re put down for what they aren’t. And that’s what feels personal to me. When normal processes like age, and/or being born black, signify ugliness and disqualify people for expressing their thoughts.

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