Antonia Zerbisias is back! After the fade-out of Azerbic, the smart, entertaining and well-loved blog she wrote for The Star, she’s just recently returned with a new blog, Broadsides. For those who are uninitiated in the ways of this fierce and funny columnist, she is a regular contributor to The Star‘s Living section. Now, it’s irksome that the topics she regularly discusses––which typically include current issues tied to women’s rights and freedoms––are relegated to the same section as scintillating coverage of the latest handbags and muffin recipes (instead of oh, maybe the Comment section, where other political analysis is printed). This kind of subtle sexism, however, is to be expected from major media outlets. The fact that space is dedicated to analysis of women’s issues should be acknowledged as a positive thing in any form that it takes. And the consistent contributions of a writer like Zerbisias should not only be acknowledged as positive, but should be something that readers demand more of.
Which is what makes Broadsides kind of distressing.
While there is still plenty of astute feminist analysis of issues like discrimination against female Olympic athletes, policies that prevent immigrants to Canada from getting white-collar jobs and the unfair, sexist attacks on Hillary, Broadsides‘ backbone is…Zerbisias’s desire to lose weight. She dives into the topic in her second entry, where she states that she doesn’t “really NEED to lose weight. I am perfectly fit and healthy, with a good waist-to-hip ratio, a crazy low resting heart rate, the blood pressure of a teenager, excellent blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and the ability to do non-stop full-body push-ups, jump squats and standing lunges for an hour — and then go for a run”…adding that, “Like too many other women, I hate the way I look.” Low-fat recipes and discussions of her diet and exercise regimen take up several entries. While it’s clear that by sharing something personal about herself she’s building her relationship with her readers, it’s disappointing to see this relationship being framed around something so…well, un-radical.
There is certainly no point (or much truth) in saying that a woman should not care how she looks. But do we really need more women who are sassy, political and outspoken devoting their energy to a topic that exerts tremendous negative pressure on all women? After all, women already have more than their share of media targeted to their insecurities. It’s unfortunate to see someone with real depth and courage adding to the pile, no matter how earnestly she is going about it.
Photo by ana_lee_smith from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.