THIS PETITE, NOT PUSSYFOOTING AROUND!

By on July 1, 2010

THIS PETITE, NOT PUSSYFOOTING AROUND! (My response to New York Time’s and Vanity Fair’s Freelance Writer, Maria Ricapito):

It appears to me that “ignorance” remains bliss…to some people.  Freelance writer, Maria Ricapito, wrote and published an article entitled, “Tiny but Tough: The Newly Empowered Petites” in the Sunday New York Times, this past week.   I am a bit agitated over her lazy and gratuitous assessment, and her lack of better descriptive words towards petite actresses in the industry – allow me to quote:

“…TINY women are shattering stereotypes and appearing as aggressive characters spoiling for a fight…it’s an easy visual joke, albeit a cartoonish one:  THE LITTLE GIRL may look like a pussycat, but just wait until she slugs the evil goon – blammo!”

Apparently, Miss Ricapito must live in a “cartoonish” sort of world since over 70% of the women in America are 5’5” and under. Are we to believe that each time she sees a petite woman, actress or not, she sees them as, perhaps, the petite “Penelope Pussycat (Pepé  Le Pew’s love interest)” or maybe even “Marge Simpson” (is she even petite?)? It sounds as ridiculous as her article, with all due respect.

PETITE MISCONCEPTIONS

What exactly is Ricapito’s point, or what is it that she’s really trying to convey to the reader by depicting 5’2”, petite actress, Gabrielle Anwar’s character (from USA Networks show, “Burn Notice”) as a, “former bomber…who wears “miniskirts”… while she picks locks, shoots guns and disables cars with plastic explosives?”

What’s the damn point?  She wrote an article about “petite” actresses seeing some “serious action of late” – what does this have to do with “miniskirts?”

When writing about an actress, whether a petite or not, does Ricapito always reference their height and clothing?  I’m just saying…Ricapito continues her diminutive thinking by adding,

Hollywood, too, has given us gun-toting heroines who look like they shop at Gap Kids in their time off.”

Although the sentence written right after this one lists the movie “Kick-Ass,” starring 13-year-old, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ricapito can’t possibly consider Moretz a “petite” since, technically, she hasn’t finished growing yet…or, can she?  Again, this is just more of the same – uneducated and insensitive conjecture towards the petite population, whether intentional or not.

PETITE “No-No’s!”

In Ricapito’s defense (and in my, “feel-sorry-for-her” assumption mode), she appears to really have no clue as to how her gauche-gaffes grind against the petite-grade.  For example, although she’s correct in generalizing the “violent femme” character as an “enduring male fantasy,” and she’s also correct in referencing the “Lolita” type character as a symbol of “Grrrl power,” she clearly has no idea how insulting it is to reference a “petite” as a “cute-as-a-button, PowerPuff Girl” – especially when an actress is an actress, and she’s just wanting to be taken seriously.

Perhaps Ricapito’s idioms are what she considers just colloquial speech?  Well, I might be more inclined to believe this, but even after her email interview with Kim Williams Dahlman… and, even after Williams explained to Ricapito (in an e-mail interview) that the inferences drawn by others often depict petite women as, “weak, fragile, delicate and even childlike,” Ricapito continued her repartee, saying…and I quote:

“It’s anybody’s guess why these anti-archetypes [petite actresses] are striking a chord.  Perhaps American [sic] feel powerless in an era of gushing oil, ongoing wars and a slippery economy, and want to believe that the little people can vanquish the big bad guys.  If so, it might be a good sign for the small-stature [sic] Elena Kagan, who is, after all, said to wield a mean gavel.”

Okay, wait…WHAT!? What a paragraph!!  Ricapito goes from 0-60, covering a whole host of topics in “a single bound” (eh, hem…speaking of super heroes!). How did she go from, suddenly, being an expert on who the “archetype” is for film Femme Fatales and heroines, to…the economy and American’s “feeling powerless,”…to the petite, evidently “gavel-wielding,” Solicitor General and Supreme Court Nominee (by her best-friend, “Barack Obama,”…God help us!) of the United States – Elena Kagan?

WHAT I WOULD SAY TO THE “PETITE” BASHER

Miss Ricapito:  Your demeaning article, and sudden revelation (and sorry…but, oh soignorant interpretations) of the hardworking “petite actress” working in today’s action film industry, is pointless, and full of ineffectual verbiage.  As a writer, I try to gather as many facts and truths (from both sides of the fence, regardless of which side I’m going to jump on) before presenting my idea or article for the public to read (mainly because I want to edify them about the topic I’m writing), which, once presented, I passionately back up every word; here, I see you have not.

Your article, clearly, demonstrated your lack of knowledge about the 70% of women in America (who are petite).   Your article told me that you either have really bad “one-liners,” or, you’ve just awakened from a really long coma and have just NOW realized there are, indeed, “petite actresses” working in the entertainment industry (like, hello…where ya been?). Where exactly were you trying to go with this piece?  It feels all over the place, with really no edification purpose…or point.

Why are your eyes, just NOW, opening to the fact that we do have, strong, amazing, petite, “heroine-femme-type” talented actresses out there?  (Could it possibly be because, from a very young age women are “conditioned” to view “beauty… strength… heroism,” as, long…gawky…amazons?” See my point?).

Why didn’t you throw some contrast in your article with amazing works performed by petite actresses, like, say…the popular-petite, 5’3″ Demi Moore, in the 1997 movie, “G.I. Jane,” or the gorgeously-petite, dynamic duo of 5’1.5” Selma Hayek and 5’3” Penelope Cruz, in the western, gun-slinging movie, “Bandidas?”

Or, how about “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” one of the top grossing action-packed, female-fighting films (grossing over $128 Million and winning over 40 awards) with Michelle Yeoh (5’3.5”) who plays a petite, sword-swinging, female warrior?  Now that’s something to talk about!   Obviously, these are only a few, strong performing petites, in the industry today; clearly, we can go back even further in time…if you need?

However, for some reason, given you are a writer for Vanity Fair, New York Times, as well as other amazing publications, I get the crazy-feeling that you understood the meanings of your word choices, and chose them carefully, hmm?  How wonderful would it be though, if a writer, such as yourself (are you petite?), could actually publish a piece about the truth of the “majority”(petites), about the fight they’re up against in the fashion and modeling industry (just imagine), and about the TRUE heroism that comes from the 5’5” and under, working-woman’s perspective (after having to be in an Amazon realm)!  Now that’s a story…please write it!

Proudly Written By:  Tana Corporon

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22 Comments

  1. Carla

    July 2, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Wow…great response Tana! Very empowering! Shame that you had to even respond to remarks such as these…"little people". Smh..really?

  2. Janice

    July 2, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Normally I think I would have taken this article with a grain of salt and tried to feel good about it, but the way Tana puts things in perspective about the snidely sneers and outright put-downs makes me think twice about the perception and its effects on us women…

    • Tana

      July 2, 2010 at 11:51 pm

      Hi Janice – thank you for saying that! I, too, would have normally taken it with a grain of salt, but now that Ann Lauren & Bella Petite has brought this "all" to my attention (almost a year ago), I read/see things differently. It truly is time for the doors to be opened for the "petite" women out there, especially ones who are just watching their dreams go by because nobody gives them a chance because of their "height!" How does it make sense to NOT put "petites" on the runway when over 70% of women in the world are 5'4" and under?

      The last thing "petite" women need is to be viewed as "childlike" or powerless, weak…fragile — this, we are not! Small things come in dynamite packages…and I think we are ready to explode ALL OVER the "SCENE!!"

      Thanks for your time if writing your thoughts!

  3. DevlinAdvocato

    July 2, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Nice article Tana, and well put. On the other hand though, the Times article does seem to describe an entertainment industry responding to public clamoring for characters that are strong and confident, while likable, feminine and sexy at the same time. The message the average reader will (and should) take from Ricapito's piece is that Hollywood is turning to petite women to find these quintessential qualities and fill these roles, and ultimately draw greater male and female audiences. America loves a petite hero! A little mainstream attention to that message can't be too bad for the movement, can it?

    • Tana

      July 3, 2010 at 8:21 pm

      Hi Devlin – I don't feel the "Times" article "described" any such thing — the article was so poorly written and ill-conceived. Truly, I can't believe the Times actually published it. The public isn't "clamoring" about any such thing…the public just wants GREAT actors in GREAT movies (thus, the reason why I detailed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" as well as some really great "Petite" actresses).

      Hollywood isn't JUST NOW turning to "petite" actresses for these rolls…come one, it's 2010 and we've had many, many great action/adventure flicks with awesome, strong, feminine petite actresses – the tone of her article, besides being "clueless," sounded as if this is a new phenomenon.

      America loves "hero's," petite or not — her message was not at all a positive one towards the petite woman, actress or not. The amazing petite actresses that we do have (which are many), and the work they do, speak for itself. Her article paid no homage to what "petites" have to go thru in this industry. Her article felt, and sounded like a "fluff" piece because she had nothing better to write.

      I could get way more technical with your comment, but I'm quite exhausted from a long week, and today is my day off! But I'm sure if you read between the lines, you'll understand my point.
      None the less, thank you kindly for the compliment of my work, and for your opinion! Happy 4th!

  4. Tyrina

    July 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Jeez, I think we petitis get the bad end of it in the press ya know! Matter of facto I don't buy them balogna filled stupido fashion magazines tired of the same old boring stuff in them. Tho it is kinda cool we're coming out as action hero's! I'm ready to kick some fashion butt ass! Let us get a brigade of petitis to charge the headquaters of th eTimes and whip out some whup ass! hooyah kickem ass style!

  5. lita

    July 2, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Hallelujah petites are fighting back! You know I don't believe I have ever read an article written about tall actresses with the identical snidely jabs about their height and appearance in an action film. Think about it…Why is this treatment and stereotypical description exclusive to us petite women? No wonder we feel less attractive and cool. Thanks Tana for liberating us! I do believe Bella Petite will change the world!

    • Tana

      July 2, 2010 at 11:53 pm

      Hi Lita – you know, you're right — I don't recall ever reading about "tall" actresses with jabs, left and right…or if they look like they shop at "Big and TALL" department stores! Great point and insight. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Regina

    July 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    I get the idea that we petite gals are viewed in such an insignificant manner and that it's okay to knock us and we take it. We are conditioned to not respond and go along until NOW! BIGGER IS NOT BETTER!

    • Tana

      July 2, 2010 at 11:56 pm

      Regina – you're absolutely right! Most of us ARE conditioned to accept…and to not even know or understand what's really going on here! And, unfortunately, many women that I've spoken to, friends and just random people that I "petite-preach" to, don't even realize they are "petite." They think because they are a size 12 or have an hour-glass figure that they aren't considered petite. We have to remind women that "Petite" has to do with "Height."

      Thank you kindly for your comment!

  7. Shania

    July 3, 2010 at 3:27 am

    In reality petites are tough, intelligent and crazy feminine looking all in one tight package! That's what pisses off the tall gals they just don't got it going on like we do! I interpreted the message as being that petite women possess great strength and power! On another note I can't recall an article written in the same style replete with double entondres describing tall actresses, hmm…

    • Tana

      July 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Shania – yes, in part, the article says petites are tough and so on, but we can do without the being referred as "little people," or compared to a "PowerPuff Girl," or even being seen as the anti-archetype, just doesn't make sense to me. Do we read articles about Uma Thurman that say, "This tall, gangling super-hero," blah, blah…? No, we sure don't! The mindset of many towards a smaller stature is that of weaker, childlike, less-than, etc…it's a fact, especially in the workplace (did you know that "taller" people get the job over shorter?). I think it's ridiculous, and should go off of qualifications, experience, etc.

      Not many really understand that there is a huge height discrimination going on, and clearly, it's here to stay…until more people join in and be heard!

  8. Radja

    July 7, 2010 at 5:03 am

    This NYT writer has no clue bout whats she sayin. How rude to talk about shawt girls like we is "cartoonish and kid" looking. I feel like neged out bout my height cause of how it's made fun upon by magazenes. This writer should a come to this site and gotten clued in somebody tell her pleezszze!

  9. Joanaxxx

    July 7, 2010 at 5:37 am

    I kinda liked this article thought is was good for petites in a way that she says "tiny women shattering stereotypes" isn't that the point?

    • Tana

      July 7, 2010 at 11:42 am

      Dear Joanaxxx – Why "tiny women"…shattering stereotypes – why not be polite and say "petite?" Or, how about just "women?" I don't think the title bothered us so much as the other demeaning comments, like, "little people," comparing petite women to "powerPuff girls," stating we all look like we shop at "Gap kids." It's just not nice. She could have really impacted the reader by better choices of words. But still, my point — "petite" women have been "shattering stereotypes" for years now…unfortunately, the discrimination hasn't stopped, and so many are clueless to the fact that we make up over 70% of the women population — why is this?

      Maria's article seemed like very old news to me – petites have been rocking the action/adventure scene for decades. Thanks for your comment

  10. Sunshine

    July 7, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Wow. I read the piece and actually didnt find it offensive what she said in the least…but I was not reading between the lines either. I can see where she was going with it, and I agree with the few others who did notice she was not bashing petites but was actually bringing those stereotypes Bella Petite talks about to light. If anything it is an eye-opener for people to notice the Petite Power in the industry. Tana, your article was full of emotion though lady!!! How much coffee did you drink? LOL. Do not mess with the Petite sisters for sure. Great Article!

    • Tana

      July 9, 2010 at 5:37 pm

      Well, if that were the case (her trying to bring light to "those" stereotypes) then why not praise the MANY petite celebrities that have been working and performing for years now? Why make comparisons to "powerPuff girls," to "they all look like they shop at Gap Kids," to referring to petites as "little people." These are negative and condenscending connotations. If someone was referring to a "plus-size" person, they don't describe her as "FAT," they say "Plus-size." With TALL women, they glorify by describing them as "Glamazons," and so on — why the negatives towards petites…and again my ONE question — WHY NOW?? Her article was decades LATE!

      We can all find the little "positives" in everything that we read, as well as the negatives, but because Bella Petite is trying to have a voice in the industry and trying to be heard, SOMEONE has to be LOUD enough to prick some ears. Just as the "Plus-size" industry did…so must the Petite-size!

  11. Lamera

    July 8, 2010 at 2:47 am

    Would someone please find a current article written with the words that mock the tall female celebs like this article references petites! Have tall actresses ever been considered "cartoonish, childish and a joke" due to their over-sized stature…

    • Tana

      July 9, 2010 at 5:37 pm

      @Lamera — EXACTLY!! Thank you for your comment, and for "getting it!"

      • Pashupati

        July 10, 2010 at 11:58 pm

        There was a chronique de Trinidad on France Info, talking about one tall girl that way, but that was played for laugh.

  12. bellapetite

    July 8, 2010 at 8:44 am

    This article is generating excellent commentary and thoughful discussion! That's the whole point to talk about the appropriate and articulate ways in which petite women should be represented in the media. We challenge you to find another article describing and depicting TALL actresses in the same manner. I am sure we are used to these adjectives, and might not think there's anything bad about it, because we are conditioned by the media, but it's our mission to change the paradigm! (www.BellaPetite.com/mission)

    It's time to change the old negative stereotypes. We are not a "childish, cartoonish, diminutive, shorty, vertically challenge" or any other bad explicatives used to describe PETITE women. PETITES ARE BEAUTIFUL! We are the new look of fashion and beauty, and that's how we want to be recognized.

  13. Certia

    July 14, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Great, I never knew this, thanks for taking on the press and jerky put downs of petite actresses. We are just as gorgeous and womanly as the tall actresses and likely more!

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