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Real Hot 100 makes waves in Canada

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

August 13th, 2006

On Friday, I told you that WIMN’s Voices bloggers are really hot.

Or, to be exact, that three of us (myself, Anne Elizabeth Moore and Mikhaela Reid) were selected as honorees of The Real Hot 100, the first annual award ceremony, networking event and party honoring young women who speak their minds, fight stereotypes and work for change in their communities and the country. (A great time was had by all, as you’ll likely be able to see from photos and video that will appear in upcoming days on the Real Hot 100’s web site.)

At the Real Hot awards brunch, I had the honor of speaking about the value of such a program as an active, creative response to negative, exploitative and trivializing media representations of young women in general, and feminism in particular. On behalf of Women In Media & News, I encouraged every one of the Real Hot honorees and their supportive guests to write letters to editors of newspapers and magazines, and call in to their TV news programs and radio stations, whenever they come across media imagery that depicts female stupidity as sexy, portrays women as powerful only in relation to their appearance, or pretends that Gen X and Gen Y women are uniformly apathetic, apolitical and anti- (or post-) feminist.

Event organizer Gwynn Cassidy, founder of Girls in Government, agreed, telling the crowd that The Real Hot 100 was dreamed up because if women don’t demand and create better media imagery for ourselves, no one else is going to do it for us.

Speaking of making the positive media we want to see, WIMN’s POWER (Perspectives Of Women Expand Reporting) Sources Project worked with the news service CanWest to help reporter Misty Harris connect with organizers of The Real Hot 100, for a story that was eventually picked up in ten Canadian newspapers, including:

  • Edmonton Journal (”Brains not boobs key to real beauty, Real Hot 100 Awards say: ‘How you fill out a bikini, in the grand scheme of things, means nothing‘”)
  • *** see below for excerpts from this article

  • The Calgary Herald (”Feminists fight back with ‘Hot’ awards: Women honoured for achievements”)
  • Nanaimo Daily News (”‘Breastacular’ image challenged: Top 100 list honours real hot women“)
  • The Star Phoenix (”Real Hot Women”)
  • The National Post (”Real Hot 100 Awards aim to celebrate beauty stemming from intelligence“)
  • The Halifax Daily News (”Top 100 list honours real ‘hot’ women”)
  • The Gazette (”Honoured: 100 women with the hots for smarts”)
  • Cornwall Standard Freeholder (”Taking brains over bikinis”)
  • The Leader-Post (”Top 100 list honours real ‘hot’ women“)
  • The Vancouver Province (”Awards praise ‘Real Hot’ women: Achievement, activism win votes for Top 100 list”)
  • While most U.S. news outlets overlooked the Real Hot events, which took place in media capital New York City, this Canadian reporter took notice in a major way, writing a story highlighting the cultural mores that require redressing with such an awards project:

    Edmonton Journal

    Brains not boobs key to real beauty, Real Hot 100 Awards say: ‘How you fill out a bikini, in the grand scheme of things, means nothing’
    Misty Harris, CanWest News Service

    Pop culture’s breastacular image of female attractiveness will be challenged today at a ceremony celebrating young women who are more likely to be seen at The Vagina Monologues than in a Victoria’s Secret commercial.

    Emphasizing PhDs over D-cups, The Real Hot 100 Awards in New York City celebrate beauty that stems from intelligence, achievement and activism.

    Designed as a feminist response to Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 — which this year “honoured” Eva Longoria by photographing the Desperate Housewives actress in a see-through negligee — The Real Hot 100 asks young women and girls to “See how hot smart can be.”

    “We think we can redefine the word ‘hot,’ taking it away from Paris Hilton and reassigning it as something exciting and valuable,” says Gwynn Cassidy, executive director of The Real Hot 100.

    “It sounds really cheesy, but the women on this list are trying to make the world a better place. They’re smart, they’re savvy and they’re truly making a difference.”

    The 100 awardees, most of whom are between 18 and 35, include:

    - Beth Myrick, a “sexual health badass” who has worked internationally to promote youth awareness of AIDS, reproductive health and sexual responsibility;

    - Rachel Burton, a sustainability advocate who teaches people how to make biodiesel, as well as how to convert their cars to run on vegetable oil;

    - Suzanne Grossman, the feminist co-founder of the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls;

    - Angela Cimato, an aeronautical student currently working with NASA and teaching a program focused on tearing down stereotypes of women being unable to work in engineering and science-oriented fields.

    “We want young girls to look at these women and think, ‘Wow, I could start making a difference today. I don’t have to wait,’ ” says Cassidy.

    The timing of the awards couldn’t be better.

    Research firm Synovate reported this week that today’s young women are engaged in “a constant identity struggle to be viewed as … the ‘hot,’ desired girl.” Of the 1,000 females aged 16 to 25 surveyed in the U.S. and Canada, 70 per cent indicated they weren’t happy with their bodies, with 38 per cent saying they’d get plastic surgery if they could afford it.

    “When you’re an adolescent or college-aged, you take your cues from culture as to what you’re going to be valued for,” says Jennifer Pozner, a 31-year-old Hot 100 awardee. “Even the positive images have started to degrade in certain ways: In the ’80s, Queen Latifah was singing about ‘Ladies First.’ Now she’s shilling for lipstick.”

    Pozner, who in late 2001 founded the media analysis, education and advocacy group Women In Media & News, hopes the inaugural Hot 100 awards will provide young girls with the kinds of role models they aren’t getting from MTV, magazines or movies — media she believes are stuck in a “weird stupidity wind-tunnel” in terms of the women they celebrate as as “stars.”

    “How you fill out a string bikini, in the grand scheme of things, means nothing,” says Pozner.

    “What you do with your life — if you’re standing up for something you believe in, if you’re actively trying to make a change in the culture or improve life for others in some way — that’s what matters. That’s what makes you hot. That’s what makes you attractive as a person.”

    The Real Hot 100 winners list, along with biographies and photos, can be downloaded at therealhot100.org.

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