[Photos via hello ancolie]
Makeup and I have always had a rather tumultuous relationship. I’ve never understood makeup — or maybe I was insecure because of my disability and never really thought I deserved to wear it? Either way, I’m SO glad that I got to write about something that involves both the beauty world AND the disability community: How Ulta Beauty is changing the game by including a model in a wheelchair in their new ad campaign.
It’s my third op-ed for The Week and it’s particularly poignant that it should come out during the week of my big viral tweet because, at the heart of it, that tweet highlighted disabilities and, especially, society’s perceptions of what it means to be beautiful. There are so many beauty standards that I despise, but the one that gets under my skin the most and makes me rage to high heavens is this idea that disabilities and deformities aren’t beautiful. That there somehow ugly and repulsive and disgusting. THAT idea is disgusting and one that I’ll work forever and ever to change.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I discuss such things are inclusion and what it would mean for young people to see this ad and be able to feel like they belong in the hallowed aisles of Ulta Beauty…
We live in a society with very strict definitions of what it means to be beautiful. I learned from a very young age that my disability would never be synonymous with pretty or sexy or even cute, and I internalized a lot of those harmful messages — some of them I’m still trying to unlearn as an adult…and Ulta is sending a powerful message with a single photo: It’s time to challenge conventional beauty standards because beautiful comes in ALL forms.
We all want to see ourselves represented in society. We all want to feel included, like we belong. When it comes to disabilities, that feeling of inclusion is so important. I was well into my 30s when I stepped (well, rolled) into Ulta for the first time, and it was certainly an overwhelming experience. I had no idea what I was doing and felt like I was entering a new world without a map; I felt like I was out of place, as if I was peeking into an exclusive club that I wasn’t invited to. Imagine how my experience would have been different had I seen a model in a wheelchair. In the new ad, she’s smiling, as if to say, “Welcome. Yes, you belong!”
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo
P.S. Thanks to Ms. Bear for snapping the photo for me!!
One of my writing goals for the remainder of 2019 was to publish my 20th op-ed on CNN Opinion. It feels very fitting that 20th piece is about what I’ve learned from going viral with my tweet last week.
The last week has felt like a surreal dream and I did my best to put that dream into words! That’s also one of my favorite things about writing — to be able to process what’s happened to me. Because let’s face it: The events of the last week have left A LOT to process. Don’t get me wrong — I’m so grateful for everything that has happened. But a lot has happened in such a short amount of time, and it was certainly nice to sit down and reflect on it.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I learned that so many women journalists are concerned about their safety these days because of their work…
I won’t pretend that those words didn’t sting, but I knew that I couldn’t let them win. I’m going to give them the exact opposite of what they want, I thought. They don’t want me to post photos of myself? Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to do!
The fact that this simple tweet has taken on a life of its own is both surreal and overwhelming, but I’m so glad that I tweeted my photos. It was my message to trolls and haters, my way of saying “I’m taking back my power.”
All the women journalists I know? We’re not going anywhere. We’re still here and we’re staying here. We’re going to continue to do our jobs and we’re going to continue to exist on social media. The world is already so unsafe for women. We shouldn’t have to feel unsafe online too.
I also want to give a special THANK YOU to my editors Jane and Yaffa — two of the most amazing editors I’ve ever worked with! They’ve made me a better writer and I’ve learned so much from them! Everyone should have a Jane and Yaffa in their corner!!
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at email@example.com and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so I see your tweet and we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo
[Photo via Unsplash]
That was my first thought as I binged Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette. My very first thought, actually. As you may remember, I’m one of those rare species that had never tuned in to see the wonders of Bachelor Nation in action. For more than a decade, I was able to resist the siren song of soapy-sudsy TV dating on steroids. And then earlier this year, I watched The Bachelor for the first time because I wanted to see how they handled Colton Underwood’s virginity because, uh, hi, I can relate! And, well, wow! Was I sure in for a lot!
Surprisingly, I find myself more angry and disgusted at The Bachelorette contestants so much more than I ever was at The Bachelor contests. Not Hannah, mind you, because she’s a downright national treasure in her awesomeness. Throughout the whole season, my rage was aimed directly at the 20+ males vying for her affections. Like, all the rage. We’re talking yelling-at-my-television-like-it-was-a-football-game rage.
For example, I spent one Friday afternoon eating barbecue chips and talking back to the television during one of Luke P’s many mantrums. When he asked if he could interrupt Hannah during one of their pivotal dinners, I screamed, mid-chip chomping, “No, you can’t, Luke!”
It was all just too much. And all the while, I wondered: Would I have this much anger if I’d watched the series from the beginning? Am I watching all this through the lens of our current cultural climate, where men behave very badly? What was my deal?
Maybe our current national climate is impacting my ability to enjoy reality television. Maybe our reality is so bad that even a mindless reality show like The Bachelorette is rage-inducing. Why can’t I escape these entitled dude bros, I ask you? Is nothing, especially reality TV, not even sacred anymore?
And then, when I watched the finale, I thought I might have a heart attack from all the rage! Wow. Jed is that guy who refuses to define the relationship with someone while out there doing very couple-y things like going to the Bahamas. I. Can’t. Even.
Hannah deserved so much better!! She’s definitely my new hero, as are all women the world over who have to deal with these sorts of shenanigans on the regular; maybe that’s the one upside for me of never having any experience with this love stuff.
I’ll tell you this: If, in some far-off future, I ever did find myself as the next Bachelorette, sitting there, watching all those men pile out of the limo a la clowns in a clown car, just know that I won’t stand for any of that nonsense — well, metaphorically stand because, you know, I’d actually be sitting in my wheelchair. Here are three reasons why I’d make a good Bachelorette, in case you’re wondering.
I say it’s time to change things up in Bachelor Nation, wouldn’t you, friends??? Please tell me you watch this show because I’ve only seen two seasons and although it makes me rage at times, I have no shame in admitting that I’m completely, utterly HOOKED… xoxo
That was my first thought when I heard the news that Taylor Swift is planning to re-record her first five albums. The decision comes after the singer’s music catalog was bought by Scooter Braun in a $300 million deal between his Ithaca Holdings and Big Machine Label Group. Following the sale of her music, Swift took to her Tumblr and shared these powerful words…
“I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years…Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.”
Like so many women, I was disgusted by the sale of her music catalog, especially in light of the fact that Braun has a history of bullying and manipulating the “Lover” singer-songwriter. Yes, artists have their work bought and sold all the time. That’s nothing new. But this sale didn’t feel like a business decision at all; it felt incredibly vindictive.
It was yet another reminder that men in 2019 still think they can control women — everything from our bodies to our livelihoods. We’ve seen men using and abusing their power over and over. They use it as a way to undermine women, as a way to assert their dominance and make women feel “less than.”
That’s why Swift’s decision to re-record her music made me want to cheer “YES.” Why? Because it wasn’t just about her being able to own a version of her songs again or make money off her early work. This was about making a statement about women and power. It’s a statement that I heard loud and clear too: Women aren’t going to be controlled. What happened to Taylor happens to women every day; women speaking out and standing up for themselves and men trying to exert power and control. I’ll have none of it. None. Of. It.
Plus, who can forget Justin Bieber’s response? The singer posted a really mansplaining, non-apology apology Instagram post in which he basically scolded her for writing her blog post about the situation. He questioned her, insulted her…and then ended with “but we love you!” NO. What’s up with men who gaslight women? Why are men constantly trying to silence women?
The same thing happened to me this summer when a man tried to make me “rethink” a blog post — coincidentally, it was this post. What happened to Taylor happens to women every day; women speaking out and standing up for themselves and men trying to exert power and control. I’ll have none of it. None. Of. It.
Writer Danielle Campoamor summed it up perfectly in her recent CNN Opinion op-ed…
“As women, we’re to blame. We’re too aggressive. We just want attention. We don’t love ourselves enough. We’re manipulative. We’re not his type. We’re too much. We’re dramatic. We’re feuding.
And, like Swift, far too many of us are watching what we’ve worked so hard for fall into the hands of men who seek to control us, whether it be via our legacies, our reputations, our bodies, or our success.”
Yes, indeed. Women are taking back their own power and I’m here for it. All. Of. It. Are you with me, friends? What are your thoughts on Taylor Swift taking back her power?? I’d love to hear them!! xoxo