A Thank You Note to Ashley Judd

Dear Ashley Judd,

I was surfing the internet and saw a picture of you, I wouldn’t have given it much thought but the headline was something about you responding to criticism about your appearance. Of course, the headline was a little more alluring than I am making it sound. Anyway, a couple of clicks later I found myself reading your essay on The Daily Beast. As I read, I smugly agreed. Yes society is misogynistic, yes the obsession with women’s appearance is absurd and demeaning. It all made sense and spoke to me because I am raising two daughters and I feel daunted by the task. How do I help them mature into strong intelligent women in a society that does not celebrate girls or women as complex human beings, but instead wants to objectify them and judge their worth based on attributes like age, weight, and beauty?

You were preaching to the choir until I got to the part where you wrote, “Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate.” Holy crap! My jaw dropped open because even though what you wrote is true and simple I had somehow failed to fully grasp the concept until that exact moment. Of course patriarchy can not survive without the willing or unwitting participation of women!

And I am one of those women.

Sure I understand that women should not be judged on their appearance, sure I understand that beauty does not make a person more worthy, but I do not live according to my understanding. No I do not judge other women because of their weight or age or appearance or at least when I catch myself doing it, I stop and tell myself that it is wrong and I re-frame my thinking, BUT I do judge myself because of my weight, age, and appearance. I do it EVERY SINGLE DAY. And right now I’m crying because I am actually feeling compassion for myself. How could I be so cruel and disrespectful?

Seriously, I would never judge any other woman or girl as harshly as I have judged myself. I celebrate other women for embracing themselves in the now, but when my husband suggested that we use our tax return money to take a family vacation to Hawaii my very first thought was, No way! There is no way I am going to wear a bathing suit in public. Really?! My very first thought?! No, I don’t say these things out loud and I did stop myself and realize I was being ridiculous, but still.

Ever since my first daughter was born I do not put myself down out loud, but I still do it in my head. I still do it when I look in the mirror. And even though my daughters don’t hear me berate myself, they see it in my eyes, they sense it in my demeanor, they witness it in the way I present myself to the world. And what does all of this self-demeaning behavior do? It supports the patriarchy that I supposedly want nothing to do with.

So thank you Ms. Judd. Thank you for helping me see how I contribute to the system. Thank you for helping me understand how much I have internalized. Thank you for speaking out, for supporting your fellow sisters and brothers.

It will not be easy to change, but at least now I know, now I truly understand that the problem is not just outside of myself. Now that I know better, I can do better and my daughters will be better for it too.

Unknown Mami


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  • http://www.vidyasury.com Vidya Sury

    You’re an amazing woman and Mami. Hugs! I enjoyed reading this.

  • http://www.landlock-mo.blogspot.com/ Rebecca

    I think Ashley Judd is one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood.  She speaks beauty to me.  And I agree………….I put myself down way too much.  :(

  • http://afcsoac.blogspot.com/ lisleman

    This post and your Hawaiian trip example certainly brings up a good discussion about our culture.  IMHO – men and women are “wired” differently as in the Mars/Venus analogy but women can perform just as well as men and should be treated as equals.  Being equals doesn’t mean we will agree or view issues the same way.  We can respect and understand each other without trying to become the same.  I never could understand  misogyny because we all come from a mother and it’s like hating your mother.

  • Myya Saad

    LOVE this!!!  I have always been a fan of Ashley Judd, now even more! 

  • Peru Delights

    I just love this post. Thanks for being so thoughtful, maybe this way we can learn how to love ourselves first, with all our imperfections. We are unique, and beautiful, we are more than what we see in our physical bodies.

  • My Inner Chick

    ((—Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate–))

    I’ve been following this story & I love love love Ashely Judd.

    What a GREAT role model for Women  ( And Men )

    Great Post, Mami.  <3

  • deborahpucci

    This post (letter) is excellent.  I love Ashley Judd.

  • http://lovesujeiry.com Sujeiry

    Great response to Ashley Judd’s piece on The Daily Beast, and I completely understand. I do the same to myself, as do many women. We perpetuate society’s message of women when we tear each other and ourselves down.

  • Eva Gallant

    Excellent post!

  • http://savmarshmama.blogspot.com/ savannah

    well done, sugar! interestingly, this was one of the topics at a dinner party i was at last night, 4 women (33, 60, 61, 62). support was from the women who were comfortable in their skin, criticism of ms. judd from those who were not…we are our own worst enemy! you’re daughters will grow up strong and confident, have no fear. xoxoxo

  • http://ladyfi.wordpress.com/ Lady Fi

    Ashley’s Judd’s letter was amazing. Just like this post.

    • http://www.unknownmami.com/ unknownmami

      Thank you.

  • http://cutand-dry.blogspot.com/ Bmanousos7

    what an excellent post!
    thanks so much for sharing.


  • http://www.reallyimamom.com/ Imperfectmomma

    I have always loved Ashley Judd. Even more so now. And you too

    • http://www.unknownmami.com/ unknownmami

      Love you right back!

  • http://spanglishbaby.com Ana L. Flores

    And thank YOU for this! Your honesty hit a chird with me because I do this to myself all the time. There is a voice that is there to motivate me and tell me when I need to pay attention to my actions, but there’s that other one that drags me down in negativity and futile self-aggression. It’s important to recognize both and, as you say, “re-frame” that thought. Make it swing to the other side of the pendulum

  • vianney

    great post. I think we are our worst enemy. I often doubt myself then later think “Why,” we all make mistakes.  love your words

  • http://xishellwords.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    Powerful words.  Thank you for the reminder that its those little things we say/do that add up to the big things we regret.

  • Raymonde

    Oh boy, that hit a painful chord, I do exactly what I don’t want my daughters to do!!! Thanks for being honest and pulling the bell.

  • http://www.classicnycstory.com/ Classic NYer

    What’s interesting is I’ve just started reading a book called Erotic Capital which argues the same thing but exactly the opposite: that patriarchy is a system by which men marginalize women’s erotic capital because if women fully knew our erotic and seductive power men would hardly stand a chance against us. I don’t know if I agree, but it’s a hell of an interesting book.

  • Catalina

    I love this post! I have boys not daughters who btw, are in the dating age. Constantly I remind them to look inward — intelligence b/c they will never be bored, self respectful b/c she will know how to respect you too, and goal orientated b/c you’ll know where she’s headed in life. Beauty, cultural background, weight and all of the other superficial stuff should not even be considered b/c they could be missing out on someone fantastic. With all of this said, (hangs head in shame) I too cringe at the thought of wearing a bikini at a beach in Hawaii. ugh….

  • http://twitter.com/wiselatinaclub The Wise Latina Club

    WOW! What a powerful, amazing realization, one most women don’t have the courage to find or reveal because we are in denial or too busy blaming others. Thank YOU for taking this first step in putting stop to patriarchy and encouraging us to do the same.

  • http://about.me/mel_hopkins Mel Hopkins

    Bravo, Sister! Bravo…I’m right here with you…in fact I just got here last night (in my thinking) Thank you for shining the light! 

    • http://www.unknownmami.com/ unknownmami

      Woo hoo! Shine on.

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