Dear Naomi Wolf,
I’m really a fan of your work. So I’m quite confused by the article you wrote about Angelina Jolie in Harper’s Bazaar where you declared her the new feminist icon.
One of your reasons? Because she had escaped the Madonna/Whore debacle. Interesting? Did she really? Was she ever a shoe-in for the Madonna? There isn’t enough ‘orphan’ in China to cover those tattoos. Sorry. (I have three tattoos myself, I love tattoos, but the Madonna – last time I checked – had none.)
Escape the image of the Whore? Um. Last time I checked she had an affair with a married man and then told everyone about it in a magazine. You wrote, ‘she managed the almost unheard-of task of turning the home-wrecker label into a wholesome, family-friendly triumph.’ …………….. Sorry for the pause. I was busy. Throwing up.
Is this a joke? Who decided that she triumphed and who the hell called it wholesome? I think what she did was horrid and unforgivable. I’ve never caught her face on the front of the tabloids and thought anything but, ‘Ew.’ She did something wrong. She hurt at least one person, badly. And because the media decided to spin it one particular way, she triumphed? Naomi, you say it yourself: Maddox was photographed playing squeaky clean football with Brad Pitt, the father figure, and by Annie Liebovitz loving his mother. This was not a triumph – but a well-played, well-moneyed PR stunt.
I don’t care how much good she does in the world, you can’t really erase that, can you??? Maybe you can note her change or congratulate her for doing good things – but call a spade a spade. I beg you.
Then, you claim that because Santa Angelina (as Perez likes to call her) got her pilot’s license, she’s chosen “the classic metaphor for choosing your own direction.” Oh? What about a race car driver like Danica Patrick? What about Secretary of State like Hilary Clinton (I mean, she travels all over the world!)? What about an artist? What about a writer? I can think of dozens of professions that involve choosing your own direction. Boldly, even.
You also declare that ‘she took for her own pleasure the male seen as the most desired of the tribe, Brad Pitt.’ Not to me. I’m a George Clooney kind of a girl. And there’s something so barbaric in your word choice…but I get that you meant to do that. You want us to see her as the cavewoman clubbing the man and dragging him back to her cave. You succeeded, I just don’t find that alluring, praise-worthy or as a desirable behavior.
Maybe this is my favorite part of your article:
“Yes, she is conventionally beautiful: Bosomy and wasp-waisted, with that curtain of hair and those crazy pillowy lips, she is an obvious male sex fantasy.”
Hello? Naomi? Are you even in there??? You, yes YOU, the one that wrote The Beauty Myth. On what planet is Angelina Jolie ‘conventionally beautiful’??? Her boobs are huge. She looks anorexic – whether she is or isn’t, her bones poke out and there is no meat on her. She’s 34 years old, has carried three children in her womb and her stomach is non-existent and those boobs stand up without stretch marks so far as we can see. Her lips are, as you say, pillows – meaning overstuffed (and I’m sure they’re natural, they do seem to exist in her childhood photos). BUT MOST WOMEN DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT.
If I remember correctly, you wanted to liberate us from thinking we needed to idolize that male, sexualized, impossible to attain ideal! Just because some women, or the majority according to your poll, think she’s hot doesn’t make it okay. Why do you think they find her attractive? Doesn’t this beauty myth play a role. Wasn’t your theory that women are pressured into taking on this idealized concept of the female body? By men?
I read your book a long time ago, when it came out in 1991. And it meant so much to me. So much – as a woman who was struggling with an eating disorder, who had just found herself plopped in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog masquerading as a private, New England college, who went on to struggle and survive, who was proudly among the first small group of women to graduate with a Women’s Studies major.
So, my feminst icon? Well, she used to look a little bit like Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Billie Jean King, Sylvia Boorstein and my fourth grade teacher, Holly Tetlow, all rolled into one. But the more I read your article, the more I realized that my icon is so much more. She’s new women I meet doing amazing things, female authors that are writing their hearts out, mothers that survive the loss of a child, girls finding their voices, she’s my friends, she’s my family. And she’s me – on my good days and on my bad ones.
We are more universal. We’re a grab bag, really. As diverse as our needs and wants on any given day. But, bottomline, my icon is real. She’s here.
Live and let live. I don’t know Angelina Jolie and I don’t pretend to just becuase I can read about her life in People magazine. But, I do know my icons, idols, role models and fantasies…and they look, act and exist nothing like Angelina Jolie.