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Links: Golden Globes backlash, or This one goes out to the ladies

Those of you who hopped on our Golden Globe live-blogging adventure on Sunday (which was way, way more fun than I expected — GIVE YOURSELVES A HAND) might be interested in the following posts on Jezebel about (sadly predictable) sexist reactions to various women at the show:

James Cameron & Kathryn Bigelow Used To Be Married — Get Over It

‘You Don’t Put A Big Girl In A Big Dress’: Dissing Christina Hendricks

And, my personal favorite: Paper Devotes 363 Word Article To Mo’Nique’s Leg Hair

Basically these are all iterations of a theme: woman dares to look “different” (i.e., boobs, leg hair) and/or succeed artistically, must be put in her place. Well played, media journalists. What daring provocateurs you are.

103 thoughts on “Links: Golden Globes backlash, or This one goes out to the ladies”

  1. Along the same vein: Anyone catch the critique of the Golden Globes fashion last night on E? (Joan Rivers et al)
    Panelists said that Heidi Klum looked “pretty good” or “OK” for having a baby 6 weeks ago, except the dress was all wrong for her, and I could swear there were comments about the size of her ass. WTF?

  2. If you watched E’s coverage, every other comment out of Guiliana Ranic was “what are your diet secrets?”

  3. Ugh. This is why I don’t actually watch/read any of the coverage, I just google “red carpet fashion” the next day and look at the pretty photos.

  4. It’s frustrating the way Hendricks is framed as being a renegade for having a curvy figure and defying convention (though the crazy-ass undergarments she is cinched into on Mad Men hardly seem allowing her body to break ANY rules, unless it’s the rule that it’s a good idea to breathe deeply on occassion) , and then in the same sentence she is condemned for not following (apparently hard and fast) rules like “You don’t put a big girl in in big dress.” Seems like putting a big girl in a small dress would be the real recipe for disaster.

    From and ogling fan perspective, I am in favor of putting Christina in anything that gives me an excuse to stare at her, and take in every nuance of her performance, and I would be content to do so if she were in a Lady Gaga outfit or her floaty creamsicle Golden Globes dress, which I actually kind of loved. Dress her in a parade float and she will still make my jaw drop. But at least 90% of that has to do with being head over heels for the character she has helped to create, and the way you can see her thinking behind a face that’s meant to reveal *nothing*. She’s so talented.

    I saw a great photo of her once (here, maybe?) with an unfortunate caption referring to her as a “luxury cruiser.” It was so inane that it fast became one of the favorite compliments in our house.

  5. I love how you can’t even see Mo’Nique’s leg hair in the original photos. They had to be cropped and then blown up just so that we could tell that *omg, wait for it…* she doesn’t shave.

  6. I’m about tired of Cameron’s name always mentioned whenever Bigalow is discussed. Though I have to admit I was hoping for some delicious schadenfreuden. Well hoping DGA on 1/30 will provide me with some.

    I am scratching my head on the Hendrix tip. I thought she did everything Hollywood asked of its “chubby”, well except for losing weight.

    And leg hair? Really? Even with her awesome acceptance speech, Bridges’ acceptance speech and Lucas being there for no discernible reason?

  7. oh Nora, the comments on that article!
    I wouldn’t recommend anyone actually go read them, but I found them so ridiculous that they weren’t a drain on my sanity watchers points at all. I swear one guy even said that not shaving (for a woman, natch) was unnatural!

  8. Well, almost everyone at Basket of Kisses loved Christina’s dress to pieces. We’ve been harshly critical of her red carpet choices in the past, not because she’s “big” (HAHAhahahaha heh. Heh. SNORT) but because she sticks bunches of bunchy ruffles around her face in crazy colors. This dress is so pretty it makes my skin tingle in sympathy prettiness. Fuck all the framing of Christina as not pretty and too big and marginalized. Fuck it hard.

    But the feminist story of the event was surely the adulation afforded a CONVICTED RAPIST ON STAGE.

    Just sayin’.

  9. Aliciamaud, in a just world, the phrase “luxury cruiser” to describe a person’s body would always be a compliment! Just think of it: big, beautiful, luxurious, and bespeaking the ability to move along in an awesomely stately manner.

  10. I do love to see other ladies with hairy legs. I sight I’ve sorely missed since moving from the wilds of western Massachusetts to the tamed Nashville, TN. I get my happiness through the intertubes now, I guess.

  11. First, the live blogging was great – thanks for setting that up! Second, I’m about to show my ignorance of pop culture yet again (like I did that night), but who was the convicted rapist onstage?

  12. This is the first I’d heard about Cameron and Bigelow, so maybe the message isn’t as insidious as you thought…?


    ::sticks fingers in ears, sings LALALALALA::

  13. I loved Christina Hendricks’ dress. I thought she looked great and I didn’t even know who she was (I don’t watch Mad Men). The E! fashion recap people thought her dress was bad and I think I even heard someone talk about her back fat. Back fat? I didn’t see any. That’s called big breasts!

  14. @Lu: it definitely is a compliment at this address! And it cracks me up every time. ..the more sincerely meant, the better.

  15. After reading The Other Caitlin’s link to the gothamist blog post, I think I’ve hit my saturation point. Women picking apart women’s bodies has just got to stop. It just has to. It’s one thing to comment on fashions or dresses (as these clothes are put out there by designers for our appraisal and consumption), but there are human beings under those clothes!! I wish I could take back every negative thing I ever said about any famous (or non famous) person’s hair, face, weight, shape, etc. It’s just degrading and what a waste of feminine energy and time! Good god.

  16. My favorite Jezebel piece was on the “E”nsanity that is Giuliana

    Yikes, that was disturbing and sad. I didn’t catch who was the male actor that told her it was so boring to talk about that stuff. She didn’t take the hint, sadly.

  17. Ughh, I about snapped on Twitter because someone started going on about how Christina needs to learn to “cover them up”, she looks like a whore, oh and yeah, “she missed her calling as a slutty porn star”. Really? REALLY?!

  18. @hsofia Everything you’ve said.

    Re: Gothamist comments. I luuuurrrve [sarcasm! yay!] all the dudes (and some women) who comment – supposedly thinking they’re being supportive? – “Oh I like the fat chicks with boobs better becuz skinny wimmin are gross!” or whatever. Yup. That sure is treating a person like a human being – giving your big bullhorn opinion on whether or not you’d fuck that person. (and I’m sure Ms. Hendricks really, really gives a shit about Joe Blowski’s hot-or-not rating?).

    Re: women picking apart other women’s bodies and fashion. It’s only after reading FA stuff (a little over a year ago) I started realizing just how much I’ve participated in shaming women for their bodies (too skinny) or their clothes (too slutty or tacky). I wasn’t the rudest or most outspoken about female celebrities – and I never ever did re: my girlfriends or family members – but those pick-apart voices were in my head. No wonder I’ve been so scared to take fashion risks most of my adult life!

  19. So in other words, women’s bodies will always be under scrutiny because we aren’t people, we are objects. Yay. *eye rolls*

  20. @Michelle: those twitter messages are infuriating! Not that this would be okay, but are people saying the same thing about Mariah Carey, who was also wearing a cleavage revealing dress? UGH!! Why is the media and the sheep that listen to their every word SO critical of everyone! Basically, you are damned if you have boobs like these lovely women, you are damned if you get *too thin*, you are damned if, after giving birth, you fail to shed that baby weight fast enough, etc…

    And then this morning while I was getting ready, I caught an interview with that “The Hills” actress (sorry I don’t watch the show, or really know her name. In fact I may have gotten that info wrong). Anyway, the girl who had like a dozen plastic surgery procedures done at one time and she’s TWENTY THREE. WTF?!

    I have to say that I’m new to learning to fully accept me as me and to HAES, but I’ve always been appalled by how judgmental we’ve become in this society. I remember pressure to look a certain way growing up, and perpetually being on a diet, trying that bad perm (hey, it was the 80s), and wearing some god awful *fashion*. However, I really feel for young women and girls today with so much focus (and judgment of character) given to superficial qualities.

  21. @emeraldcat I don’t watch Mad Men, although Christina sounds like a lovely person from the interviews I’ve seen (and after watching Firefly, I can tell she’s a talented actress!), but I kind of took it personally – as a 34G, I know how damn near impossible it is to find clothes that don’t either smush your boobs, reveal the majority of them for the world to see, or just look kind of frumpy. It’s just felt like, gee, I guess I better make sure to always wear full-coverage clothing, lest I be called a whore. What?!

  22. The Christina Hendricks is too fat to wear that dress comment is freaking ridiculous. It it highlights an important sentiment in our culture. People who are deemed to be “fat” are supposed to blend into the background; not stand out. In terms of fashion dos and donts, how many donts are there regarding ‘fat’ women wearing trendy clothes. Fat people shouldn’t wear ruffles, vertical stripes, clingy clothes, tank tops. Fat people should wear clothes to camouflage their flaws not flaunt it. And if you do dare to flaunt it, *inserts clucking* ‘that poor thing, she can’t honestly think she looks good in that outfit.

  23. What’s the bet that if Ms Hendricks and Ms Carey wore dresses that were less form-fitting or “revealing,” people woould call them “frumpy” and the OMGFATBIGFAT talk would escalate? You can’t bloody win!

  24. It’s a real shame that there’s more articles about what the female GG winners LOOKED like than the actual projects for which they’ve won or been nominated.

    For example, I’ve been on the fence about seeing Precious, in part because I react very strongly to films that graphically depict abuse, and I am a little bunny rabbit and get scared, but Mo’Nique’s win may tilt me in the direction of seeing it, and the article about her leg hair referenced a moving speech, but it’s the leg hair that gets the press, not Mo’Nique’s speech and her experiences making this film. Dangit, lookism.

  25. Other Caitlin: That photo got pulled pretty quickly, just FYI, on account of it was distorted, and replaced with the original. I would actually be inclined to give the Times a pass on this one being an honest mistake simply because it was so obviously distorted. Their standards for photos are usually a great deal higher than that.

  26. That’s an awesome photo of Mo’Nique. I also have not shaved my legs in years, and I’m glad to see an image like this.

  27. @hsofia @Kelly I didn’t actually read the comments on the Gothamist post.

    @sara l. Good to know – you’re probably right. Anyway, she looked good in both versions.

  28. I’d actually agree that Hendricks’ dress wasn’t really an ideal color for her (of course I’m a goth, so all I could think was how gorgeous she’d look in black, or electric blue). But other than that I’m really not seeing any problem with it, other than that you can indeed see that she has big boobs, which apparently a lot of Hollywood people find alarming. You can also see that she has a tiny waist, so…

    Also I’ve seen both Avatar and Hurt Locker, and frankly, if anything? People should be whispering that Cameron used to be married to that fabulous director Kathryn Bigelow. You know, the one who made the credible action movie, not the one who made the movie where Pocahantas turns into a giant Smurf and then they attack fighter jets with arrows while riding dayglo dragons in the middle of Fern Gully.

  29. The only way I’d have 10 plastic surgeries in one day is if I was having accessories added. Built in coin holder in thigh, two ceramic fingers that acted as curling tongs, one finger as a mascara wand, built in library in one arse cheek, that sort of thing. That would be worth having.

  30. I’m surprised I haven’t read a ton of backlash yet over Amanda Palmer’s wardrobe change on the red carpet, and the shocking! revelation! that she doesn’t wear a bra or shave her pits. But maybe that’s the benefit of being far enough on the fringe of popularity that the big-time celeb “analysts” don’t have the time of day for you. (I did love that in some of the photos I saw of her red carpet performance, the caption described Neil Gaiman as her nameless guest. XD)

  31. I did love that in some of the photos I saw of her red carpet performance, the caption described Neil Gaiman as her nameless guest.

    Apparently, they just got engaged (there’s your daily dose of celebrity gossip. :-))

  32. SecondhandMoon, I was thinking the same thing! I also noticed that while Life had her photos, they didn’t seem to be in the gallery groupings–I wonder if it was just that she’s too far on the fringe of popularity, or if it’s combined with her being just too out there for them to think of anything properly scathing to say. It’s harder to shame someone who’s known reaction to such things (re: her fiasco with her label) is to go “So what? I don’t need you.”

  33. Y’know, Sadie at Jezebel hit something that’s been worrying around in my mind for a while: I like clothes. I like admiring gorgeous and dissing ugly clothes. There aren’t many opportunities to do that without bleeding into horrible judgmental crap about women’s bodies and worth.

    This is actually why I love awards show season–there are all these beautiful and talented women wearing clothes I can actually get into dissing/loving, simply because they’re the same women, year after year. Love what So-and-so wore to the VMAs? Hate what she wore to the Oscars? It’s about the dress. So I get a little stabby [note: in my case, this is not the Stabby Pain. This is the wanting-to-stabby-fashion-journalists] when a superb opportunity to diss a peach satin ruffly gown turns into an OMG-FAT-AUGHHH. Dear World of Fashion: Ms. Hendricks’ personal endowments have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the side bustle is never a good style decision.

  34. i think Amanda Palmer is just too alt/not mainstream enough to get fussed over to the same extent as the others. I follow Gaiman on Twitter, so know who she is in relation to him, but I had no idea who she was before that. Glad to know Mo’nique wasn’t the only woman there with unshaved legs showing.

  35. I also don’t shave my legs. Shaving or not is a personal choice and about as relevant as whether you choose to wear glasses or contacts. I also don’t watch Mad Men, but the lady in the pic is lovely and confident, I hope she is giggling in her coffee at all the ridiculous people who are criticizing her. Silly people, just blows their tiny minds that women can look good in many ways.

  36. Starling – I am the same. I’ve actually trained myself out of body-snarking quite well (though I am still working on some friends with the bad habit), but I still love to look at and analyze clothing (people watching is fun!). I get so annoyed when the commentary all seems to be about the size of the dress (or how much it shows, OMG a woman has nipples and/or back fat!), and not the colour and design. Now I also just look at the pics after.

  37. The only thing that makes me sad about Mo’Nique’s hairy legs is that they won’t do enough to make it acceptable for me to not shave mine for job interviews.

  38. slythwolf — just out of curiosity, what field are you in that it’s expected that you wear leg-revealing clothes to job interviews? I tend to solve that problem by wearing long pants and dark socks such that nobody can tell that I don’t shave. (I dislike the slush that has fallen on New England lately, but one advantage of winter is that I am currently wearing one rainbow piano-key sock and one sock with multicolored hearts on it and nobody knows.)

  39. We don’t watch Mad Men, but Christina Hendricks sure caught my husband’s attention when the cast came on stage to receive the Drama award. I believe his exact words were “Whoa, hello, juggles!”, lol. He sure didn’t care about the dress.

    I thought she looked fabulous.

    As for Mo’Nique’s leg hair, it doesn’t seem to make an impact on the future of the free world, so what’s the big deal? Heck, if she were up here in Canada, it’d help keep her legs warm during our “six” months of winter!!

  40. It’s been said already, but often when a celebrity is referred to by some kind of fat euphemism, I a) don’t care whether she is or is not fat, but b) can look through the ugly lens where women all have to be +/- 1-2 sizes of size 2 and see why really fucked-up people think she is fat because there is some deviation from the strict norm. However, Christina Hendricks is not one of those women. She is acceptably thin with large breasts. This is seriously getting worse and worse all the time. Who will be considered “ample” next? Marcia Cross?

    Note, obviously I don’t consider “she’s not fat” a helpful statement, factual, or a positive or negative thing in any case. But my eye is starting to be, and I say this seriously and without exaggeration, unable to distinguish between the women we are supposed to see as acceptably thin and those who we are supposed to see as chubby.

  41. But my eye is starting to be, and I say this seriously and without exaggeration, unable to distinguish between the women we are supposed to see as acceptably thin and those who we are supposed to see as chubby.

    Word. This might be venturing OT, but I read the webcomic “Red String,” and a character just got picked on by some teenage boys for being “fat,” and told her girlfriend that she knows she’s always had a “weight problem.” I know she’s a drawn character and not a real person, but it would never have occurred to me in a million years to describe her even as CHUBBY. She looks almost exactly like the other (thin) female characters in terms of size and shape. And so far the artist has yet to turn this into a “Isn’t it absurd and harmful the way we criticize women’s bodies?” plotline. It made me *headdesk*. I had almost managed to forget that we live in a world where a size 6/8 woman is still expected to have a lower “goal weight.”

  42. I absolutely LOVE Christina Hendricks – she’s gorgeous and a terrific actress. The dress (the color & the style) doesn’t do her any justice, although I don’t think anyone would look their best in that dress. At some award show, last year I think, she wore this amazing emerald green gown that made her look like a goddess.

    How did the topic of Mo’Nique’s leg hair even come up on the red carpet? Did she just show off her shoes and someone noticed her legs or did some idiot actually ask her about shaving?

    About Giuliana Rancic – I find her incredibly annoying on E!. I caught a few minutes of the reality show she has with her husband and she just struck me as an incredibly insecure person. In the episode, her husband was interested in flying lessons and wanted her to come along. She admitted on camera that she had played herself off as being super adventurous before they got married when in reality she was terrified of anything like that.

  43. Paula: It was raining at the Golden Globes. Mo’Nique was wearing a floor-length dress, and she was holding it up so it didn’t get wet. Thus were her legs revealed to the slavering masses.

  44. From a ways back… Amanda Palmer’s dress was gorgeous, BTW, and I seriously LOLed at Gaiman being labeled her “friend.”

  45. Hell on wheels….it is pretty weird when Haiti is imploding by the second that a woman’s leg hair can still frighten the horses. How bizarre. If I think about it long enough, I know I’ll start releasing a high pitched wailing sound that will just get higher and higher until I eventually fly towards the ceiling and spin round rapidly deflating like a burst balloon.

  46. It’s funny. I’ve never watched Mad Men, so Christina Hendricks will always be YoSafBridge to me, and I never once thought of her as “fat” or “big” or “plus-size” in any way while watching Firefly. I envied her perfect skin and awesome boobs and the fact that she got to kiss Nathan Fillion, and I was happy when she got the fame and success Firefly fans always knew she deserved. And Monique’s awesome is, to me, INFINITELY more important than whether she shaves her legs or not.

    I think what disgusts me even more than the “fat” bashing of Christina Hendricks is the treatment of Kathryn Bigelow as a director. Rather than saying “Hey, here’s someone who directed a great movie! Isn’t the movie cool, isn’t she a talented human being?” all the media is all “Here’s someone who used to be married to James Cameron. Oh, and she might make movies or something, I don’t really know.” As a woman who wants to be a writer and director in my own right (I’m getting my degree in filmmaking starting next year), I’m finding it pretty damn discouraging that the media only ever treats female writer/directors as oddities whose skill is secondary to their “feminine traits.” Like, fuck the fact that Diablo Cody is a good screenwriter, the first thing any interview or piece about her mentions is the fact that she used to be a stripper. No one ever mentions Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, it’s only Peter Jackson who made LOTR great movies. (Not that I have anything against Jackson at all, but he couldn’t have done it without an awesome screenplay to work from.) Gail Ann Hurd is another perfectly talented producer/writer/director (Alien Nation and Terminator among others) in her own right who happened to have been married to Cameron, so again that fact gets mentioned first. Sophia Coppola? But she only gets money because of her daddy, dontcha know? Oh, and if you wanna be a female director, look to Nora Ephron or Catherine Hardwicke- after all, they make the kind of movies that women are *supposed* to make, vapid rom-coms and Twit-light. Grrr. Excuse me, I’ll be off writing my screenplay for a hardcore sci-fi zombie flick with a non-sexualized kick-ass heroine, biding my time until I can grab the old boy’s club that is Hollywood by the balls and squeeze. Sorry for the rant, but as you can see, it’s a subject near and dear to my heart.

  47. I gets all my teevee from Hulu and since I didn’t watch the Golden Globes, I went online in search for a list of winners and was a tad annoyed that it took some tricky navigating to get past all the Best and Worst dressed lists before I could see who had ACTUALLY WON. Incidentally, Christina Hendricks made Best on the Best/Worst list at Wonderwall on

  48. It’s funny. I’ve never watched Mad Men, so Christina Hendricks will always be YoSafBridge to me, and I never once thought of her as “fat” or “big” or “plus-size” in any way while watching Firefly. I envied her perfect skin and awesome boobs and the fact that she got to kiss Nathan Fillion, and I was happy when she got the fame and success Firefly fans always knew she deserved.

    It’s interesting; I had never really thought about it before, but Firefly actually had a reasonable amount (for TV) of body diversity, didn’t it? Jewel Staite was TV fat (though not-real world fat) as Kaylee, and Gina Torres is just generally bigger than most actresses. Christina Hendricks didn’t necessarily stand out as “NOT ACTRESS SKINNY” on that show. Whedon gets flack – deservedly, probably – for often casting very thin brunette women (to play emotionally or mentally unstable characters), but he also seems to make more of an effort than most to expand out of what’s normally considered acceptable in TV casting.

  49. I really liked Hendricks’ dress. I’m not normally into ruffles, but I just thought it was spectacular and … delicate at the same time. A really nice break from the mermaid/fish tail, Grecian column, a-line and tutu skirts. I think I like her taste in general. Her wedding dress was amazing … didn’t look very comfortable (not sure how she sat down), but it was a work of art.

  50. just out of curiosity, what field are you in that it’s expected that you wear leg-revealing clothes to job interviews?

    I’m in Michigan, looking for entry-level clerical work. I don’t have to wear skirts to interviews, but it’s generally a better decision than pants, simply because of the unconscious gender-role bullshit in people’s minds. I’m broke; I need every stupid stinking advantage I can get. See also: makeup, nail polish, “done” hair, heels.

  51. I absolutely LOVE Christina Hendricks – she’s gorgeous and a terrific actress. The dress (the color & the style) doesn’t do her any justice, although I don’t think anyone would look their best in that dress. At some award show, last year I think, she wore this amazing emerald green gown that made her look like a goddess.

    This one?

    Or this one?

    She’s stunning in both, IMO (jewel tones really flatter her, and green especially), but my preference is for the former.

  52. @LilahMorgan – I think Joss Whedon could do a lot better with his body diversity! On Firefly it was all right, I guess (no one I’d call chubby or fat, but he did have THIN and CURVY women on the show – the men were pretty much all just ranges of athletic). On Dollhouse, at least we got Mellie. I don’t think the actress who plays her is all *that* great, but she’s so beautiful and well dressed on that show, I just want to see her everywhere! I also wanted Mellie’s wardrobe (with brighter colors).

  53. I’m in Michigan, looking for entry-level clerical work. I don’t have to wear skirts to interviews, but it’s generally a better decision than pants, simply because of the unconscious gender-role bullshit in people’s minds. I’m broke; I need every stupid stinking advantage I can get. See also: makeup, nail polish, “done” hair, heels.

    Can you wear tights instead? I’m in Michigan as well, and I find that tights have the advantages of 1) being warmer than hose, and 2) hiding leg hair.

    I think the only time I’ve ever worn a skirt to an interview was for one of my grad school interviews. I had so many men creepily staring at my legs that I vowed “never again”. We just can’t win.

  54. Yeah, he could definitely do better. Just thinking that he’s probably almost the best in that regard I’ve seen on TV which is a super low bar. :-)

  55. Joss also had the lovely Amber Benson playing Tara, and while no one in their right minds could call Charisma Carpenter fat, she, like Christina, is awesomely curvy, with broad shoulders and hips and big boobs. And with his skinny brunette actresses, they at least seem naturally slim (or athletically, in Summer “I’m an awesome dancer and martial artist” Glau’s case) rather than “I have dieted away every scrap of flesh on my bones” scary skinny. Considering what most actresses on most shows look like, I don’t think Joss should be getting any exceptional flack for casting skinny women when he at least has Tara, Melly, Kaylee, Zoe, Saffron, and Cordy to his credit-and not one of them was ever played off as anything but beautiful, so it’s not like he had them as “token fat friends” or whatever. That’s part of why I was so sad to see Eastwick go- Rebecca Romijn and the girl who played the redheaded best friend were both normal-sized women portrayed as just as sexy and desirable as the much skinnier Lindsay Price and Jaime Ray Newman-both getting very hot guys instead of moping about their weight. And then ABC had to cancel it. *sigh*

  56. @LilahMorgan @hsofia @Jamie

    I haven’t watched other Wheadon project so the following is my take solely on Firefly. First, I think the writing was better than lots of other stuff. & I’d love to make out with Nathan Fillion. Actually, several of the cast members. In fact there was so much to like about Firefly the sexist stuff almost painted me.

    I thought the female “diversity” on Firefly wasn’t really all that awesome: all women were thin, a couple of them very thin, all very conventionally-het pretty, all of them young, and all of them sexualized or fetishized to some extent (the men – they may have been so in our minds, hello I knit my husband a Jayne hat! – but certainly weren’t by the lens of the show).

    To me the “diversity” in Firefly reminded me more of the Gilligan’s Island: the movie star or the good girl next door! But don’t worry, all of them are young and beautiful in semi-exotic ways! Like a showcase but with more choices. OK so he cast a female as the ship mechanic? Big deal (maybe this is all my internal projection issues; I was a female chemical engineer/process engineer in an all-male field).

    The whore stuff bothered me. Apparently as a Companion you’re a respectable business lady and all that. Yet how many times did Mal or someone else impugn her in some sneering way? So the show got to have it both ways: whoring was titillating and sexy and even (kinda?) powerful, but it was also a vulnerability for said whore.

    I’m probably going to get my ass handed to me for dissing Firefly in any way. ;-) Truly, I loved the show but found problems that pained me. And hey, but thanks for identifying Ms. Hendricks! I don’t have television and hadn’t seen MM, but I knew I knew her from somewhere…

  57. @Kelly – I really enjoyed Firefly on the whole (my child has the name of one of the main characters), but it wasn’t perfect. I always thought Mal was a jerk. Kind of like Capt. Kirk. Dick swinger. And in the movie, he was pretty unlikable (which I guess is how Whedon wanted him to be in the show, but Fox said to tone him down). I also didn’t get why Inara would be attracted to him … that always seemed a real stretch to me. His calling her a whore all the time … mmm … sorry, I don’t even talk to guys who would call me a bitch, so I’m certainly not going to like one who called me a whore. (Consequently, I’ve only been called a bitch once to my face by a gay guy who thought he was being cute, and never a whore.) So I wonder what the deal is with that … although I’m not trying to revoke Whedon’s man-feminist card. I’m just saying, “Wha?”

  58. @Beth Sneyd – Oh yes, I’ve always maintained as a Canadian lady, I have no business shaving my legs in the winter. We Canadian ladies need every extra bit of insulation we can get. That said, when I DID shave my legs earlier this week, a little voice in my head said “…and now you’re gonna freeze to death waiting for the bus to work, you know. YOU’VE DOOMED YOURSELF.”

    Leg hair. WTF. It’s no biggie. Get over it, mass media. And YES, to all of you people pointing it out… Why the emmereffing hell is appearance apparently the ONLY THING that can be said about actresses heading down the red carpet?!?! They have accomplishments! Ambitions! Projects! They DO THINGS other than just STAND AROUND AND LOOK PRETTY.

  59. On Firefly, I’m of two minds about Mal. I do think that to a certain extent we were supposed to disagree with Mal and dislike the way he treated Inara – and to see how it damaged what could be a good relationship with her, culminating in her leaving the ship. We were also supposed to like him, and it’s understandable that some people couldn’t given this, but he was made out as a flawed character, I think. On the other hand, I also think a lot of that got lost in the general “He’s a Big! Damn! Hero!” sentiment, which is problematic.

  60. @Kelly
    I don’t have access to Firefly right now, but I don’t remember Zoe being overtly sexualized or fetishized. Or River for that matter. And I do think Mal was somewhat sexualized (don’t we see a very inviting shot of his nude buttocks at one point?). Definitely agree with you on the way Companions were handled, and some of the other points you bring up as well!

  61. Christina Hendricks & Mo’Nique both looked amazing and the thing that stuck out to me was they looked so radient and comfortable in their own skin. I actually really liked Christina’s dress, well, not a huge fan of the color but it still looked fantastic on her. She has a real gift for emphasizing her hourglass figure. Where the heck does she get her bras? Because a good strapless is so very hard to come by. So Mo’Nique doesn’t shave her legs, who cares? Apparently too many people :( It’s rather obvious she’s not an ill-groomed or unhygienic person and to shave or not to shave is very much an individual choice.

    The media does seem obsessed with forever linking people who were once married and having them be rivals over everything. Is asking the press and bloggers to actually consider Bigelow’s excellent work? Of course not because women apparently only exist to be extensions of men, or, you know, something like that. *headdesk*

  62. I said this about Hendricks, and I’ll definitely say it regarding the actress who played Zoe-blanking on the name right now-seemed small to me. I specifically remember thinking “she looks really skinny to be a military bad ass” but then again, I do remember a lot of men saying, and being, really really skinny right after leaving the military. so who knows. but I never see anyone from that show as much other than skinny.
    as for the dress discussed-what exactly is wrong with wearing a ruffle on your dress, or a dress that isn’t “sleek”? a lot of the backlash to that comment that I’ve seen-specifically on Jezebel- is “that dress would look bad on anyone” really? maybe I have no fashion sense, but I just don’t see it.

  63. sara l. – OMG I cried! OK, that does it; time to sack up, get brave, and go see Mo’Nique and Gabourey be talented and amazing.

    Jamie – I agree with you completely on all points. Every time a film is directed by ANY woman, it’s all about the “woman director.” Men are permitted to direct all sorts of films: action, comedy, even romance, but women who direct films of any kind (including romantic comedies!) are always critiqued on the basis of their femininity. The same holds true in the studio arts, I have found, even today — men can create art in a vacuum and people analyze it based on quality and content, whereas all art created by women is immediately critiqued on the underlying idea of the artist’s gender identity. I have been told that this is because of our world’s history of female disinfranchisement, but please: it is 2010 now, and attitudes towards female artists have barely budged in the last 100 years.

  64. Don’t forget, Jewel Staite had to gain at least 5 pounds when she got cast as Kaylee, specifically because Joss & Co. wanted her to look younger than her castmates.

    Morena Baccarin and Summer Glau (a trained ballet dancer) are both very slender, as is Gina Torres, however Torres is taller than average which made her appear bigger. If you look at any scenes where she’s with Nathan Fillion she’s about his height, where the other three women were all noticeably shorter (though not as short as Sarah Michelle Gellar was ;)

    It frustrates me that both Amber Benson and Miracle Laurie (Tara and November, respectively) were both dressed “frumpy” to emphasize the curves of their characters and play on them being the “fat chick” stereotype, even though by no definition would either of them be called fat, and having met Amber in person a couple times, I didn’t even notice her body size at all.

    I remember the unhinged vitriol aimed at Amber Benson during S4 of “Buffy” where the homophobia blended in with body hatred as trolls were hurling insults at her for being an “ugly, fat lesbian” etc. That was a seriously unhappy time, but the body shaming being coupled with the homophobia was intensely frustrating for me. But Amber posted this to the forum where I used to hang out in response to some of those attacks:

    Yes, I am not a STICK. I am a NORMAL, HEALTHY (I was gonna say Girl, but…) WOMAN. I have breasts and hips and I am very happy that they are part of me. I weigh 118 and I am 5’4″. If you saw me in real life, you would think I was on the thin side. But on tv, next to my very petite costars, I do like heavier. I am PROUD to be NORMAL. A body is a beautiful thing to waste. Believe me, I have seen enough of my friends and peers waste away to NOTHING so that they could work in this industry. So that they could perpetuate the LIE that ANOREXIA is Beautiful. IT IS NOT. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. ALL OF YOU. Just for being. You all can judge me and Tara for being ‘fat’, ‘gay’ and ‘shy’. I suppose that my being on tv gives you that right. But I DO NOT have to read what you say. I have enjoyed being a lurker. But my feelings just can’t take the criticism. Those of you (you know who you are) with sensitivity will understand. Thank you for sticking up for us. Tara and I both appreciate it. I think that being a beautiful, heavy, lesbian witch rocks! No matter what happens I’m glad I get the chance to walk in Tara’s shoes. All you girls and guys out there who think that starving, binging and purging and exercising yourself to DEATH is gonna change how you feel inside– It’s NOT. Don’t buy into all the media crap. Love yourself for who you are, not what others THINK you should look like. It’s DEFINITELY more important in this life to love each other despite our imperfections.

    (Yes, I know, “normal” is a loaded word. She’s an actress, not an activist, so please make some allowances for that.)


  65. Zoe = Gina Torres.

    I’m a huge fan, but Firefly doesn’t get a single point from me for body diversity. Sorry. Jewel Staite’s body is, to my eye, totally Hollywood-acceptable (imagine her in something other than coveralls!), Christina Hendricks looked a lot thinner circa Firefly than she does on red carpets now (might be a quirk of costuming vs. fancy gowns, but I’m skeptical) , and Charisma Carpenter’s looks are more than Hollywood-acceptable. Miracle Laurie and Amber Benson (Melly on Dollhouse and Tara on Buffy), now that’s the beginnings of a conversation re: Joss and body diversity, though I think Laurie’s a better example because she’s presented as a love interest for a man. My gut instinct is that it would be easier to cast a less normative woman as a lesbian than as a straight woman.

    hsofia: I’m confused about the comparisons between Mal and Kirk. Mal can definitely be unlikeable, but on the whole I don’t find him offensive, the Inara/whore thing hugely excepted. But as LilahMorgan said, I think that’s supposed to be a negative facet of his personality. I don’t think we’re supposed to empathize with that, especially given that he eventually drives her away. Of course, presenting something as negative that many people believe/say sincerely is always problematic in and of itself – you always run the risk that those people will take it seriously.

    Random thought about Hendricks and her dress – I’m boggled by the “you don’t put a big girl in a big dress” comment (not least of all because I can’t fathom how you could sincerely call Christina Hendricks a big girl). It’s just bad thinking about fashion. To my eye, if you put that dress on a skinnier woman, it would wear her rather than the other way around. A woman around Hendricks’ size, or bigger, will rock that dress precisely because of their size. If the critic doesn’t like big dresses ever, that’s fine, but if she doesn’t like big dresses on big women then I’m wondering who she likes them on and why.

  66. Krishji: me too. I’ve been avoiding that movie because, you know, I’d rather not see something that will make me want to stab myself, but I’m considering it more and more strongly.

  67. DRST: Do you really think Miracle Laurie was dressed frumpy? I’ll give you the first few episodes, but I thought Melly was supposed to be sort of a shut-in without a ton of social skills or self-esteem, and that’s why she wasn’t dressing well. Once she started dating Paul, I thought she was dressed very tastefully and looked very attractive. YMMV, I guess, but their non-treatment of her size delighted the hell out of me.

    Funny thing about Torres’ height. One of the eps has a hilarious commentary by Alan Tudyk (who played her husband Wash) about how much shorter than Torres he looks on film, when in fact he’s about an inch taller. It’s totally true, throughout the show I figured he was about 5’8″ and Torres was about 5’10” or 5’11”. He’s all, “My mother didn’t realize that I’m taller than her!” … It’s funny when he says it, anyway =X

  68. Of course, presenting something as negative that many people believe/say sincerely is always problematic in and of itself – you always run the risk that those people will take it seriously.

    Totally anecdotal, but I think one of the reasons I tend to think Firefly did a reasonable (though imperfect) job of striking the balance here is a conversation I had with an acquaintance who has religious objections to prostitution — he said he was watching Firefly and suddenly realized “Wait a minute, why am I agreeing with Mal about Inara’s job when I’m not thinking about the fact that he’s in a job that regularly involves killing people.” It made me think that maybe the show was getting across the problems with Mal’s actions, even if the acquaintance and I are never going to agree on a particular underlying moral framework.

  69. (And I hope that comment didn’t come off too obnoxiously. It really was one piece of anecdata and I don’t want to try to claim it can draw any wider conclusions; it was just a conversation I found striking.)

  70. sara l. — If you lived anywhere remotely close to my Harlem OfficeBed, I would invite you to come with me to see Precious. We could bolster each other and make sure no self-stabbing goes on, and see an important film.

  71. Thanks, Krishji. I hope I didn’t come across like I was getting down on Nora Ephron or Catherine Hardwicke, because I think people should be able to make whatever the heck kind of movies they want to make, but I am frustrated by the fact that, when people have any knowledge of directors, those are always the two they mention to me as “girl directors.” Catherine Hardwicke is actually a great example of how the studio system screws women over-she took a terrible property in Twilight and made it into a reasonably watchable (and filled with excellent scenery porn) film- then they fired her for being “too emotionally involved” with the project and brought in a male director- the guy who managed to completely ruin “The Golden Compass”, one of my favorite books. And he directed the disgusting, sexist farce that was American Pie. Double yuck. I haven’t yet seen New Moon myself (though I plan to Netflix and spork thoroughly when it comes to DVD), but by all accounts it was terrible (my older brother went with a friend and walked out twenty minutes in), much worse than the first film. Not much of a standard, but…considering the material she was working with Catherine Hardwicke did a heckuva job. Now, do any of you think a male director has ever been fired for “being too emotionally involved” with a film? I. Don’t. Fucking. Think. So. It’s like they can’t stand to have a woman at the helm of a successful franchise. It’s so incredibly sad to me that you can have someone like Frances Marion, incredibly successful female screenwriter, before women even had the freaking vote, and in 2010 women have to fight tooth and nail against a ridiculously patriarchy-heavy hegemony to get their scripts seen and their ideas bankrolled. (Part of my massive love of Joss Whedon, Ron Moore, and J.J. Abrams comes from the fact that all of them are very supportive of female writers and willing to work with women in the otherwise male-dominated SF/F field. Bless, guys.)

  72. Do you really think Miracle Laurie was dressed frumpy?

    Yeah, I strongly disagree with the idea that Mellie/November and Tara were dressed frumpily. November especially has worn some sexy-ass dresses, and Tara and Willow both dressed like alternative cool college kids — more covered up, skin-wise, than the other actresses, but not at all frumpy IMHO. Tara wore corsets sometimes!

    I think this discussion goes back to what we have talked about many times with regard to the waxing and waning popularity of plus size models: what is the impact of having such a tiny, tiny range of acceptable types of beauty that something that just barely escapes that range (whether it’s Christina Hendricks wearing more than a DD or Jewel Staite gaining five whole pounds) looks like diversity? Does expanding the beauty ideal in these tiny ways help women who are outside it, or not? I think it tends to help on its impact on individuals and not so much on its impact on the culture at large, but that’s based mostly on speculation on my part.

  73. I think this discussion goes back to what we have talked about many times with regard to the waxing and waning popularity of plus size models: what is the impact of having such a tiny, tiny range of acceptable types of beauty that something that just barely escapes that range (whether it’s Christina Hendricks wearing more than a DD or Jewel Staite gaining five whole pounds) looks like diversity? Does expanding the beauty ideal in these tiny ways help women who are outside it, or not?

    Sweet Machine, exactly. I wonder the same.

  74. LilahMorgan: Fascinating anecdote. Thanks for sharing.

    Krishji: Maaaaybe we should make a viewing date. =P New Jersey represent!

    Sweet Machine: I’d just like to “this” everything you wrote.

  75. @Sara l – my comparison of Mal to Kirk was simply based on their swagger. I had a problem with Mal’s violent language in the movie and his interactions with several of the other characters. He redeems himself by the end, but he came off very alpha male and controlling to me in the first part of the film On the one hand, claiming to care for his crew like family, and on the other, threatening to kill them, abandon them, etc. It made for a good story, but how harrowing….

  76. @hsofia [making a big pfffft! fart noise with my mouth]

    Mal is the macho anti-hero guy, the character I’d guess Wheadon clearly identifies with or admires or wants to be or whatever. Half the time the other characters are standing around going, “He’s so complex!” or whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I like the show, but Mal is an alpha male, just one slightly different than your average (the Han Solo effect).

    & yeah, I still want to make out with him.

  77. Well, Sweet Machine, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can say that as an inbetweenie seeing Mellie and Tara, both of whom are close to my size, being involved in awesome relationships (and Mellie chosen over tiny, thin Echo as the woman to save by the too-hot-to-handle Ballard) gave me a boost to my self confidence. I’d watch other programs and think, God, I’m never gonna get a boyfriend because I’m too fat-I’ve got big hips and a big ribcage, so even if I dieted myself down to nothing I will never be a willowy creature like these lovely girls, so what’s the point? (This was before I found you guys, and I was pretty heavily influenced by the whole mass media “You gotta look like this” spiel, like lots of other teen girls.) When I saw Tara and Mellie, two girls who were my size, ruling at life and looking awesome, I thought, well, if they can do it, why can’t I? Similarly, my cousin, who has always struggled with her DDs, only became confident about her appearance after she saw Christina Hendricks looking awesome with the big boobs. I do think the little changes help- I wish like anything there could be more drastic ones (and will use all sizes myself when I’m a director, and kick the ass of anyone who tells me I can’t), but I’ll even take the little ones. Hopefully, the little changes will lead to bigger ones, and to fewer women feeling marginalized. I can’t do anything about what’s going on now, but I give you ladies my word that I will fight tooth and nail for REAL body diversity when I am in Hollywood.

    Another thing to ponder: Is it directors and producers who are to blame, or is it columnists like the one who wrote the nasty stuff about Christina, and the bloggers and tabloids who say actresses like Queen Latifah and Sarah Ramierez are “cows”? Which is the symptom, and which is the cause? It seems rather like a vicious circle to me; the public cries out for normal and plus sized actresses, some directors/producers to oblige in their half-hearted fashion (even if no one is more than Hollywood fat), the columnists and bloggers leap on the actress for “being a lardass” and the studios for “promoting bad health by hiring fatties”, so the studios go back to hiring skinny women so they won’t get bad press. It seems kind of like a chicken/egg thing to me: is it the cause of our societal obsession with thinness or a symptom of it?

  78. @ i-geek: I was thinking about the dress in the first link, although she is stunning in the second one as well.

    @ KB regarding Christina Hendricks dress – I have no love for ruffles and the dress itself was a painful reminder of 1980’s prom dresses. The color was pretty but I think Ms. Hendricks looks better in jewel tones as i-geek mentioned.

  79. sara l. – OMG we so doing this! Picka day, picka place, we having a cinematic experience!

    Jamie – You totally didn’t come across as getting down on Nora Ephron et al. I understood your point, and agree — filmmakers should be judged on the quality of their product, regardless of the genre, and especially regardless of their sexual identity. And I had no IDEA that Hardwicke had been ejected from the Twilight series in favor of such a colossal screw up. Dag, yo.

  80. Eh. I love Christina Hendricks for many reasons, not the least of which is that the line “Face it hubby, I’m really hot!” can be deployed to great advantage…
    But a “big girl” with whom I feel body image kinship? Errr, not so much.

    For me, the problem with Joss casting his martial arts, ex-military, etc etc heroines as very, very slim brunette (or blond, in one instance) women is that women who are seriously competent in martial arts and other action heroine-esque activites aren’t. that. thin. Especially if they aren’t at their fighting weight for a competition and (gasp) some fat settles on those muscles.

    Yet I can forgive him that. After Dollhouse, though, I’m having a much harder time dismissing his evident fetish for women in non-consenting bondage (always the same kind/style of bondage, too, if you look….CREEPY) with needles stuck in their foreheads (and other places).

  81. *pulls out Alpha Buffy Geek card*

    Yeah, I strongly disagree with the idea that Mellie/November and Tara were dressed frumpily. November especially has worn some sexy-ass dresses, and Tara and Willow both dressed like alternative cool college kids — more covered up, skin-wise, than the other actresses, but not at all frumpy IMHO. Tara wore corsets sometimes!

    “Frumpy” was, if I am remembering correctly, the description given by the costume & makeup crew from “Buffy” for how Tara was dressed, especially when she first appeared. They dressed her in baggy, unflattering clothing to emphasize her size compared to Alyson Hannigan, in order to make Amber Benson look bigger than she was. (The corset was something she wore in the musical episode, in a fantasy, and thus not part of her everyday wardrobe.) Her costuming altered over time as her relationship with Willow solidified and Tara became more confident, but in the beginning, it was frumpy.

    As for Melly/November, I got a definite sense in her first few episodes that they did almost the same thing with the costuming. Her wardrobe improved a bit as the first season went on, after she and Paul got involved, but she started out intended to look like an “average” woman who could be his neighbor (and thus not alert to him to her being a doll, and to play on the type of woman he liked, since she was programmed to appeal to him). Still more conventionally attractive than most of us in the real world, but not glamorous or highly stylized.

    And even with the immense creepiness and horrible content of Dollhouse, I still get that little quivery feeling when I remember Melly and Paul talking about the last guy she dated, and she shrugs with false nonchalance and says, “I get that I’m not the gold standard in LA” and he dismisses it with, “Please. You’re gorgeous.” Miracle Laurie did this beautiful little double take in her reaction shot that broke my heart even as I knew exactly how she would’ve felt. Gah.

    I wonder sometimes how the guy who created Buffy and wrote that scene created a show like Dollhouse. But that’s a debate that’s so far off topic I won’t go there.


  82. There are a couple of British shows that I like that have pretty good body diversity, the better one is Midsommer Murders. The main cast has all thin women, though one is and looks older though still lovely; but in the varying characters there is a lot of both body and age diversity. It’s shocking after watching the typical American fare. If these were books, they’d be a combo of cozy and police mysteries.

    The other is New Tricks which has an average-sized (hollywood fat) woman of middle age commanding older men in open and cold cases. She is dominant, wants advancement, and is portrayed as desirable and feminine without being weak. “Bird in charge” is the phrase the show uses, and not in a derogatory manner, at least in the first season which is all I’ve watched. One of the older men also struggles with not being NT and also being depressed; and he has a gorgeous older woman as his wife. He is my favorite character on the show, Brian Lane.

  83. Krishji: Leave me a note on my blog, the link is in my name. Just so we don’t carry this on in the SP comment thread =)

    DRST: If you’re drawing from commentary or whatever then you’ve definitely got the better source =P But it doesn’t seem even remotely implausible to me to show someone as less confident without a partner who gets more confident with a partner. I do see how it’s bad if that’s always a bigger person, but I don’t think it is – I’m thinking of all those awful movies with the “ugly” girl who turns into, like, Rachel Leigh Cook or something. So I don’t wanna say it’s a size-stereotyped device either. I don’t know. Do you see that device as problematic because of Laurie’s size, or on its own? Because on its own, I really do think it’s a pretty honest depiction of a lot of people’s mindsets.

  84. i am absolutely reeling from Amber Benson revealing her height and weight when she played Tara. She really did “read” as a (slightly) “bigger” woman on the show. is it all because the other actresses were so very petite, or is it that parallax issue with the cameras? Or simply the camera crew being able to make anyone seem different than they are (in which case we are back to the same tailchasing issue as with models being tiny, when they could easily have gone to some other standard or NO cookiecutter, and still made fabulous art with the fashions and cameras?)

    I am just about to go on vacation (swimwear) and really fighting the belly-unloving feelings, so maybe that is why this made my head spin. The “lesson” really is that Absolutely No Woman Is Good Enough. Thank you Capitalism-plus-Patriarchy!

    Grrr, argh.

  85. flightless: Make-ups crews + camera men = television lies. Did you see my above post to DRST about Alan Tudyk and Gina Torres’ entirely fabricated-for-TV height difference? Film crews can make anyone look like anything, least of all themselves =)

  86. @flightless – all of the above. Plus, the camera totally can lie, depending on the situation. Even without help from lighting, make up, DPs, and the like. Combine this with Hollywood culture and casting practices in which people who are simply smaller than the average person (even your average thin person) are preferred over others, and it’s a recipe for a break from reality.

  87. @hsofia: “it’s a recipe for a break from reality.” Well said!

    Yeah, I just wish there was a way to make it less CONVINCING. I kind of want to paint “Results not typical” in large letters across the bottom of my TV (but it’s actually Mr.D’s TV, so – no.)

  88. I never thought Tara was plus sized! In fact I weigh more than she does (I’m a little taller too) and I’m not plus-sized. Tara is barely even slightly larger than hollywood skinny, which makes her still slim in anyone’s books (crazies excepted).

    Tara hardly counts as body diversity and it is sad that we have to grasp onto that. :( Don’t even start me on grasping onto Jewel Stait -she is slim!

    I do want to point out that I don’t think it’s true that a female martial arts expert would necessarily be not-slim. I am a black belt in taekwondo and I have fought more than one girl wearing a US 4/Aussie 8 who nearly kicked my butt (nearly!). At a US 6-8/Aussie 10-12 myself, I am the average size at my dojang. Anyway, a size four is definitely slim in my books! However I’ve never met a female black belt smaller than that. I do agree that a size zero just would not have enough muscle to do serious damage.

  89. Yeah, the size 0 Buffy Summers image was more what I was getting at. Of course, if you are matched to an equal weight class, like in women’s MMA, things change–but that isn’t what Joss Wheedon is portraying–he’s showing size 0-2 women going up against huge, buff men and winning, again and again (yeah, yeah superpowers, whatever).

    Not that it’s just Joss. I remember seeing the posters for Wanted where Angeline Jolie’s upper arm had been Photoshopped to be *slimmer than the barrel of the pistol she was aiming.* The kickback would have snapped her wrist, for crying out loud.

    I think there’s been whole threads on this particular problem, so I won’t belabor the point, but you see what I mean. Not that slim women can’t kick ass, but that the media ignores what real female ass kicking looks like, on the whole.

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