Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Jail Time

Rapper Lil’ Kim (Kimberly Jones) recently completed a 10-month prison sentence, and as you may have noticed, the media seems most concerned with the 25 pounds (or so) she gained while in a Philadelphia jail. In Star magazine’s feature, “Not So Lil’ Kim,” Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Traci Billingsley describes generic prison meals, “‘Dinner might consist of baked chicken, a vegetable, a potato and dessert, like pie or cookies.’”

My reactions, in the order they occurred: 1) What a well balanced meal! 2) They get dessert? 3) Congratulations to Lil’ Kim for providing one of the media’s most intelligent decoys, yet. Her weight gain puts the focus on her body instead of her incarceration, leaving us little time to ponder her alleged guilt (something about perjury?), or other experiences that may have befallen her in jail. This is a woman who found her niche amongst a group of east-coast rappers [her battle cry, “Only female in my crew,” is heard in “It’s All About the Benjamins (Remix)]. This is a woman who, at the 1999 Video Music Awards, wore a sequined pasty get-up (and was consequently fondled by Diana Ross). This is a woman who understands precisely the power of the media’s focus on women’s bodies. And this is a woman whose additional 25 pounds seems to be the most compelling and noteworthy part of a two-year-long legal ordeal. That, as you may know, is called “working the system.”


Donna said...

Foun your blog through another's a few days ago, and have been reading ever since.

This last entry made me chuckle; it never ceases to surprise me what the media thinks is BIG news.

drstaceyny said...

Hi, Donna--thanks for checking this out. . . .

littlem said...

Dr. Stacey, although I'm not sure I would welcome Li'l Kim as a sister in the struggle (there are some deeper issues there in terms of why and at whose behest she perjured herself, IMO), and although I know she is very aware of the power to manipulate the media with *ahem* feminine charms, I'm not sure it was her choice to place the media focus on the weight she gained.

IMO, the larger media decided to focus on that by themselves, because it's the least ethically tangled of the all the issues in that mess. I believe the larger media sees it as a simplistic focus for the public's attention. (Although sometimes I'm cynical like that.)

I too was surprised about dessert, though. :D

(Of course, if you eat cookies every night for dessert, and don't work out to adjust your metabolism accordingly, my bet is that you're going to get a little bigger, and I can't imagine that the prison would accommodate an adjusted exercise schedule. Plus, she's tiny, so 25 pounds is going to show up on her immediately, in contrast to the time they would take to show up on, say, Tyra Banks.)

drstaceyny said...

m--I'm not saying that she was intentially manipualating the media--it just occurred to me that it was interesting the way things worked out.

On the surface, it is a pretty simplistic focus--kind of appeals to some common denomiator (why did I just type "demon" as I was writing denomiator?). But, as we start to see consequences (eating-disordered women who first plunged due to, among other things, repeated exposure to fashion magazines), it becomes a bit more entagled. I'm not saying it's the media's fault, however, or that censorship is the answer--I think it's just important to be aware.

You're right--25 pounds on her sub-five-foot frame is pretty obvious.