Everyone’s favourite eyeliner/Hello Kitty enthusiast has been in the news a lot lately, thanks to that monstrosity of a video she put out for the single from hell. (I wrote about that here.)
She was also recently the subject of a Buzzfeed article that compares and contrasts the photos from an Avril Lavigne meet and greet and the photos from a Rihanna meet and greet.
Rihanna’s are often funny and always very, very handsy. (Girl loves a good air hump.) Avril’s, meanwhile, are soul-crushingly awkward.
At the crux of this cringe-worthiness, at least according to Buzzfeed, is Avril’s pesky ‘no-touching’ policy, which means fans can’t touch or hug her during photo ops. (Fans are also apparently required to keep the Gulf of Mexico between themselves and Avril.)
The pictures are definitely hilarious. But, listen: mock the awkward photos. Don’t mock the no-touching policy.
Contrary to many commenter’s beliefs, no, Avril Lavigne is not a bitch because she doesn’t let fans hug her.
Avril is not ‘mistreating her fans’ by not letting them touch her.
But because fans paid hard-earned money to meet her — I’ve seen figures ranging from $400 (!) on up — they somehow feel entitled to her body. (Personally, I’m not completely sure how an insincere hug would improve what seems like an appalling waste of $400, but cool.)
And, of course, Rihanna comes out looking fun and laid-back and Avril looks like an uptight prude/cardboard cut-out.
I’m guessing Avril’s no-touching policy exists for a reason. I’m guessing, at one point, she was made to feel uncomfortable. Maybe she was even attacked. Maybe she’s just not down with strangers hugging her (FAIR ENOUGH). Maybe she is, in fact, an uptight prude. Who cares?
The reason for the policy doesn’t matter. She doesn’t want people to touch her. That is her right. Her body is her body and nobody else’s body.
And yet, women’s bodies — and specifically famous women’s bodies — are treated like public property, so it’s little wonder that some people feel they should have unlimited access to them.
‘Access’ might mean literal physical touching— but it also might mean monitoring the contents of famous women’s baby caves, or whether they have the Worst Beach Body or are Scary Skinny.
It’s an expectation that famous people must forgo privacy because it’s ‘what they signed up for,’ which is why you see so many tabloid headlines that reference ‘secret’ weight loss surgeries or ‘secret’ pregnancies.
(To that end, Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville has done incredible work on agency/bodily autonomy as it relates to fat bodies, which are also viewed as public property. Here’s just one of her posts, about New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s ‘secret’ weight-loss surgery.)
When you live in a body that’s publicly monitored, policed, sexualized, objectified and otherwise dehumanized, your body, to quote McEwan, is not your own. We reinforce that idea when we not only laugh at Avril for having a no-touching policy, but are surprised that she has one.