10 July 2013

What Dustin Hoffman said next...

On Monday, after I posted my blog about the horribly nasty comments some people were tweeting about Wimbleton tennis champ Marion Bartoli and how women are only judged on their beauty no matter what else they accomplish, a friend of mine linked to the Dustin Hoffman video that had come out earlier in the day during which he teared up over realizing how he had missed out on meeting some seriously interesting women because their looks didn’t conform to his expectation of beauty so he hadn’t even bothered to talk to them. He’d come to this epiphany when he saw how he looked as a woman when he made “Tootsie” in 1982. (I’m curious how Hoffman’s relationship with women changed after he had this light-bulb moment and it does seem odd that we're giving him so much credit for admitting how shallow he is/was, but that's beside the point).

Over the last few days, the AFI video, which was taped awhile ago but only seems to be coming to light now, has been all over the place. Most people seemed to find it on Upworthy (love that site!) or Huffington Post, but today I followed the trail back a little bit more and found what he said next. The circulating video ends with Hoffman saying he’d been “brainwashed” by culture and that in his mind, “Tootsie” was never a comedy. But that's not where he ended.

After he made the “brainwashed” comment, according to several tumblrs and blog posts, he added that “Tootsie”  “was not what it felt like to be a women, It was what it felt like to be someone that people didn’t respect for the wrong reasons. I know it’s a comedy, but comedy’s serious business.”

That last part is really key. I’ve gotten a lot of reaction to my blog on Monday and it struck a nerve with people because many folks know what it feels like to be criticized for their looks or, even if they haven’t been, to feel like you’re not good enough because you’re always comparing someone else’s outside with your inside. I know that saying means that we’re comparing how someone presents themselves to the world when we can’t see all their crazy with all of our insecurities and doubts (i.e.: our inside), but it also seems to apply to judging them on physical appearances only.  I will always maintain that it is easier to be traditionally beautiful in this world than not and that this world gives beautiful people a lot of free passes in ways both small and large, but I’ve also seen beautiful women suffer from the kind of self-loathing and low self-esteem that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. That's what this world does to them.
It all comes down to feeling like you’re “respected,” as Hoffman says it and we seem to still have a very far way to go to get to the point where women are respected for something other than how they look. 

So I’m going to give to another group that helps girls with their self esteem. And I’m sure I’ll give to several more before my year of giving daily is over. 
Today I’m giving to Girls Rule, a non-profit that salutes “brilliant, beautiful and bold” girls. Founded in 2008 by three women, the Arizona-based charity devotes its efforts to teaching young girls to shine their lights through various educational workshops that focus on building self-esteem, making smart choices, developing leadership skills, and building concrete steps to realize goals. 

On the site’s home page, it posits this question. The answer is the whole world would be a better place. 

What if every teen girl believed this?
I believe in my light.
I believe in my future.
I believe in my dreams.
I believe in myself.
I am brilliant, beautiful and bold! 

July 10: Girls Rule

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