Mourning the Loss of Joan Rivers From a Feminist Perspective

It’s been barely a week, but still I feel as though a part of my family is gone. Joan Rivers, legendary comedienne, has left us at the blessed age of 81, and I am in utter shock.

When I first heard of her recent ailments, everything in me was positive that she was going to fight it out and make it through. In no way was I ready for this. I couldn’t even imagine saying goodbye last week. There’s something invincible about celebrities to the rest of the public. It’s so hard to avoid the idea that your favorite icon will live forever. It’s so easy to think that we can’t lose them.

In a sense, I’ve grown to appreciate her unapologetic nature as much as I’ve grown to resent it. As someone who has been ostracized for her plastic surgery over the years, and who had to struggle to make a name for herself in a male dominated industry, I do have a level of respect for Rivers. Because of her, Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer and Kathy Griffin and so many others have had a venue to be heard. As much has she can be considered the anti-feminist, she’s done so much for women in comedy.

I can’t sit here and ignore the second half of Rivers’ career. I can’t say that Joan Rivers was an angel. Although I’ve admired her in the past for always speaking her mind, her fatphobia, racism, and internalized misogyny cannot be forgotten. More importantly, it cannot be excused just because she was a comedienne, or because she grew up in a different time. As a devout “Joan-Ranger,” I still hold her accountable for the things she’s said in the past for the sake of a joke; regardless of how unapologetic she’s always known to be.

My trend loving soul is absolutely in mourning. New York Fashion Week is almost over, and I feel empty without  her presence here. Joan Rivers was an icon, a voice in the fashion world. All I’ve ever wanted was the chance to have her critique my style, or commend my clothing savvy. I’ve looked up to her, admired her, and now, have to remember and honor her.

 Joan Rivers, may you rest in peace and glamour.

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