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‘Dead to Me’: The Measure of Womanhood

If you haven’t binge-watched “Dead to Me,” what are you waiting for? With episodes coming in at under 30 minutes, you’re getting a series that can fit in with almost any schedule, and every episode packs a punch of drama, comedy, pathos and the exploration of psychology that comes with it. Bookmark this page, go watch the show and then come back here for the discussion. Spoilers are below the trailer.

Jen (Christina Appplegate) found out she had the gene related to breast cancer and got a double mastectomy (Applegate went through the procedure IRL in 2008) to save her family the trauma of what she went through when her mother died. (She still smokes heavily, but that’s for a different blog post.) After the surgery, her husband stops being intimate with her, and unbeknownst to her, he finds a younger woman with larger breasts to start a relationship with. He told this girl that he was a widower and his wife died from breast cancer.

While Judy’s (Linda Cardellini) case is a little more complicated, she says her fiancé left her after she had her fifth miscarriage. He couldn’t deal with the pain or the letdowns, and he wanted to have a family at some point.

These two experiences are parallel. As the two women have their womanhood and desirability called into question when they, for all intents and purposes, lose the body parts that make them female. Is Jen any less worthy of her husband’s love after she sacrifices for the sake of her family’s future? Is Judy less deserving of love because she hasn’t been able to bring a child to term?

Most people would say “No,” probably including these two women’s husbands before the procedure and the miscarriage had the hypothetical been asked of them. For all of American society’s supposed advances in rights and body image, the U.S. still values women for how they look and their ability to bear children. Nowhere is that point made better without it being preached than in “Dead to Me.”

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Kendall Jenner’s acne leads to ‘moving’ and ‘raw’ announcement

When Kris Jenner announced that her daughter Kendall Jenner (Reality TV star since 2007, age: 23, net worth: $30 million) would be sharing a moving story and hashtagged it with #bethechange #finallyasolution #mydaughterinspiresme, people immediately speculated what the announcement might be. Would Kendall come out as gay? Would she be going to rehab? Would she reveal she’s pregnant? Was she abused as a child (she spent half her life on reality TV, so…)? Was she raped or sexually assaulted? It would certainly be something momentous. The rumors and speculation grew. What would she be changing or offering a solution to?

The announcement ended up being a commercial… for an acne treatment… meh. And Kendall got raked over the coals for it, though a few tweets predicted that would be the announcement.

A year ago, when walking her first red carpet event, Kendall felt amazing. Her hair, makeup and dress were perfect, and she was on top of the world. When she got back to the social media world, people had pointed out her acne, and it hurt. Then some others helped her change her view when they supported her bravery and courage for going out there with acne. “But I still want it gone.”

Having acne isn’t a world-changing announcement. It isn’t something worthy of all the drama, but there are two things worth noting in this announcement. This is the worst thing that’s happen to Kendall, and it points to a worse problem than just acne.

People who were upset that this is the worst thing that’s happen to Kendall in her life need to stop and think about their gut reaction. Does anyone really want to hear that someone’s been raped, sexually assaulted, or going to rehab? No, because that means something terrible has happened and no decent person wants that for anyone else. It’s awesome if this is the worst thing that’s happened to her. Some people bullied her about her looks, which are ingrained in who she is and what her job entails, and others came to her defense as a virtual support network that helped her keep her self-esteem intact. “But I still want it gone.”

Women have to deal with judgement about their looks all the time, particularly those in entertainment and modeling, who provide role models and expectations for those normal women who have everyday lives, children and not enough money for food or rent, much less to go to the gym and the spa. Women are told they need to spend time and money on how they look. They need make-up, moisturizers and creams and a little black dress. Things that most men don’t have to deal with.

But Kendall didn’t make it about men or societal expectations. Instead, she made it about herself. Her fans helped her turn her energy around and make her feel better about the acne. However, that doesn’t mean that she wants to have it. “But I still want it gone.” This tag says she’s doing it for herself, and if that’s true, then good for her and good for her all the way to the bank.