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David Call’s Madame Sugar: Body Shaming or Beauty As the Beast?

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For a long time since the Deaf artist, David Call posted his artwork: LSL Dominatrix, Madame Sugar, a lowbrow art, I was told to put into silence mode and I really do not appreciate anyone telling me to be silent about it and move on. I want to make sure that 100% clear that I want to write about the artwork itself to share concerns. Before I write, I want to make very CLEAR that it is not about Deaf versus Deaf.  Since I can remember watching a documentary called Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women for a college-credited course, it was an eye-opening thought with the questions that should be discussed, for example, does the beauty ideal tyrannize women? What about whether “advertising” objectify women’s bodies?

The advertising is also an art work that has been roiled in many years by “microaggressions” leading to demand for “trigger warnings” in the media. Keep in mind, before I share my concerns to challenge the artwork, I do not ever support Meredith Sugar at all because she is actually a hate-monger against the people of the eye: Deaf people. She is an aqua roller for Alexander Graham Bell’s labor of language deprivation.

However, the artwork was highly offensive because it is all about body-shaming. Look at the RED lips—it reminds of an old sign advertising Picaninny Freeze, a frozen treat in 1922, the same year Alexander Graham Bell died. Those RED lips and the image of Black people were part of encouraging hatred and severe racism—and that was difficult thing to remind the history. I remember seeing a picture like that from a book that I got it from my mother for my birthday present to understand the growing pains of history.

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This artwork deals with negative and often dangerous effects of our concept of beauty. Men are often viewed on a more intellectual, instrumental way, women are viewed as ornamental, simply a face. In modern times, the ideal of what a woman should look like has changed many times, ranging from an anorexic ideal to plump, to compulsive eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, and obsessive exercise.

Because often the ideal of beauty is nearly impossible to maintain, many women suffer from self-confidence issues, and are left disappointed. Many industries also profit off of this ideal: Diet drug companies, cosmetic surgeons, and designer clothing labels all make billions off of women each year. As said by Elayne A. Saltzberg, “Psychological effects of the pursuit of the perfect female body include unhappiness, confusion, misery, and insecurity.”

The interesting question concerning this beauty ideal is: if this lowbrow art was so miserable trying to achieve this beauty ideal, then why do the artist continue to do it? Reasonable doubt? Why does the artwork also encourage about objectify women’s bodies? Imagine what if it was your own mother? If an artist drew about my mother like that, I would not be very happy camper.

Is body shaming also part of hate speech? Maybe. Maybe not. The impact on women from this ideal is political and psychological, as it results in oppression and disempowerment. The image of art above is about community accountability. Reasonable doubt?

-JT

Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message

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