America’s “reality” is white and male, 9/19/2013

The media has reacted to Julie Chen’s revelation that she underwent “double eyelid surgery” twenty-five years ago with the same discomfort most of us probably have when imagining a surgeon taking a scalpel to our eyelids.   Rather than risk examining the complicated racial and gender politics involved in Chen’s story, outlets that can be counted on to publish multiple analyses of Miley Cyrus at the VMAs or the latest New York Times trend piece on women’s sexuality seem to have shuddered and looked away.   But Chen’s story deserves more than the sensational before-and-after coverage of the tabloids (now with added nose job speculation!) or the half-hearted shaming from the few feminist blogs that did cover it.  What happened to Chen when she was twenty-five years old is something that happens to women of color every day in our society: the willful misreading of bodies of color.