Last night, Christina Aguilera showed up to the American Music Awards in a figure-hugging purple gown that Ashley at The Gloss called “the worst Christina Aguilera red carpet blunder of her adult life” but which I think looked very nice on her, minus the gaudy shoes and excessive use of bronzer. Later on, she performed in a cinched corset that emphasized her giant boobs and impressive waist-to-hip ratio. To my eyes, Christina Aguilera did more or less what the event asked of her: she stood on the red carpet making sexyface, sang a song, and did that thing where her voice hits a whole bunch of notes in a row. Classic X-tina. But according The Daily Mail, she was showing “an unapologetic air of defiance to the skinny.” Come again?
Although it seems pretty absurd at face value to define someone’s body as being “defiant,” I kind of know what they mean. From Madonna to the people who rip off Madonna, the American pop star’s body is supposed to be thin, fit, and toned. It’s “aspirational,” in that it’s what we’re told we’re supposed to aspire to. Of course, there are slightly different standards for women of color (less skinny, more curvy, still insanely tough for most people to attain), and as a half-Ecuadorian pop singer with R&B flavor, Christina Aguilera straddles that line. I think that’s why everyone was so eager to believe that fake quote about weight gain which had her saying “I am Ecuadorian but people felt so safe passing me off as a skinny, blue-eyed white girl.” In one fell swoop, it expressed displeasure at cultural standards of beauty and also explained how racialized those standards are.
I don’t think Christina Aguilera set out to make a political statement by ceasing to starve herself to be thin; I’m going to guess she’s just doing what feels right for her body at a phase in her career when she has more power over her image than before. But in the twisted culture we currently inhabit, it’s also true that female celebrities like Christina (and Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Lady Gaga, and anyone who is not super tiny) are defying a cultural norm just by existing in the public eye. And furthermore, daring to live their lives, wear revealing outfits, have relationships, and even tell reporters they are sick of talking about their bodies. It’s kind of insane that “dieting only a little instead of a lot” could ever be seen as progress, but it is. Whether or not Christina meant to do it, she’s striking a blow for body acceptance just by standing there being the center of attention. I hope that someday this won’t seem so revolutionary.
(Via The Daily Mail)