Friday, April 17, 2009

Sexism, Agism, and Susan Boyle of "Britian's Got Talent"

I'm 47--the same age as Susan Boyle of Twitter, YouTube, and "Britain's Got Talent" fame.  And, like Susan--I've let my hair go gray. And, I neglect to tweeze my eyebrows for weeks--okay--months at a time.  

Sadly, there's been as much ado about Susan's looks as her glorious voice. Susan can hit all of the high notes. More over, she can imbue each of those notes with longing and emotion. Like Judy Garland--she LIVES the song. She's got a natural talent--finely honed over her 47 years. Yet, she had to play the self-depreciating clown until she got the chance to sing.

Susan's moment of glory forces me, you, and your students to ask important questions: How do we measure a woman's worth? By her talent? By the wisdom she's gained by her middle years? Or, by her surface value? 

I keep reeling  back to Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women. I wonder what the feminists (I am young enough and old enough to think this isn't a dirty word) out there have to say about the world's reaction to Susan. Please let me know by commenting below.

Meanwhile, there's some heartening news: Susan and the show's judges want her to be who she is. There'll be no makeover--for now. It's a relief to know that she won't get thinner and blonder by the next show's air date.

And, if you're the only person in the world not to have seen the video tape of Susan, here it is.

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