User:Demet Adiguzel / Trimester1-Essay
‘I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’
The system is so corrupted that even it raises mothers with complexes and are dedicated to ruin their children’s life by dressing them like little prostitutes and entering them to beauty pageants, it does not even realize how abusing it is for a mind that young to capture the power of ‘the gaze’ and what that might mean. It might mean that being looked at has the most importance; it is the meaning of the life itself. So they learn the need to be looked at.
And the hungry corruption feeds itself by millions spent on clothes we don’t need; pours our savings on cosmetic surgeries to look like Angelina Jolie, eye creams that ‘graft’ youth, the ‘ultimate’ mascaras to extend our eyelashes to the stars.
But how do we know we achieve the beauty by these, how do we know what is beautiful? And why, why can’t we embrace our age with all the wrinkles, gray hair and inability to lose weight quickly? Why aging is so ugly that we need ‘anti-aging’? And what is waiting for us in the future if we keep this way?
I don’t know how to say it without sounding feminist. I don’t know how to show it without stating the obvious, the obvious truth that we all got accustomed to. I only know there is something really wrong about this system we live in. And it pisses me off.
'For thirty years, media have been taken to task for reproducing and reinforcing stereotyped images of women. Yet unfair representations of women in media still prevail worldwide. Sex stereotyping has been so deeply ingrained, even glorified, that the women themselves have become desensitized to their own inferior portrayal. The prospects appear even gloomier as the globalization of media progresses.' (Kyung-Ja Lee, 2000, p. 86)
The world is spinning around the transactions with money; selling, buying, consuming. Advertising as a medium is dedicated to convince people that they ‘need’ things constantly. In order to succeed in this false appeal, first it makes people believe that they lack something or they are incomplete or flawed. So there are thousands of signs it puts around us to suggest that it can complete what is missing. It surrounds us with the idea that it has the cure for our problems – artificial problems that were put to blind us from the fact that we are being slaved rather than managed.
They make inevitable and natural facts like aging, look like a defect so that they can suggest that they have the cure for it. Make the whole environment occupied with it so no one can wake up.
And I’m guessing without someone on the screen telling us to open our windows to shout out ‘I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ - like in the film Network (1976) - the masses will stay in their living room in front of their TV-sets to sleep the manipulated dream. A dream where being attractive is the most important thing and that it should be achieved by trying everything that they are offering.
'Killing Us Softly'
The dictation of how to look is even more severe in women’s case. As Jean Kilbourne mentions in her Killing Us Shortly Series, there is a pattern in the images that we are bombarded everyday, which actually is kind of a statement about what it means to be a woman in this culture.
In her speech on Advertising’s Image of Women, she claims the ads, as the foundation of the mass media, are everywhere and the primary purpose of the mass media is to sell products. It also sells images, values and concepts of love, sexuality and success.
Ads tell women how to look and women learn from a very early age that it’s very important to be beautiful and that enormous time, energy and money should be spent to achieve this ideal beauty, and that they should be ashamed and feel guilty when fail to do so. But failure is inevitable because the ideal beauty is based on absolute flawlessness, which is almost impossible to achieve even for the ads so that it is constructed. For ads the images of models are changed dramatically, retouchers create women who do not exist in the real world. They combine features from different images to make up a composite ideal image, a perfect face from four different faces. Ads tell to our subconscious that we can look like these made-up images if we try enough – if we buy their products, use their services etc. and the reason we are not thin, beautiful, rich, successful as the made-up models in these images is simply that we are not trying hard enough.
Even though these images of ideal beauty are not real they are artificial, constructed real women and girls compare themselves to these images every single day.
Kilbourne also states that these images of ideal beauty influence how men feel about the real women they are with as much as affecting women’s self esteem.
Meanwhile ‘among the Nigerian Wodaabes, the women hold economic power and the tribe is obsessed with male beauty; Wodaabe men spend hours to- gether in elaborate makeup sessions, and compete—provocatively painted and dressed, with swaying hips and seductive expressions—in beauty contests judged by women.’ (Wolf, 2002, p.13).
But in the Western cultures it should never be the women to hold the economic power, ‘Youth and (until recently) virginity have been “beautiful” in women since they stand for experiential and sexual ignorance. Aging in women is “un- beautiful” since women grow more powerful with time.’ (Wolf, 2002, p.14) So basically women are told they are acceptable only if they are thin, young, white, beautiful and carefully groomed. Now even being thin as a concept is not enough so there comes complementary definitions like size 0 and size 00 which has a distinctive role to make eating disorders more common.
Anne Becker’s famous study found a sharp rise in eating disorders among young women in Fiji soon after the introduction of television to the culture. “Girls who said they watched television three or more nights a week in the 1998 survey were 50 percent more likely to describe themselves as ‘too big or fat’ and 30 percent more likely to diet than the girls who watched television less frequently.”
The celebrities that teenagers adore come in the same size with great statements like “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” – Kate Moss
Or “It’s about starvation. Pop stars don’t eat.” - Lady Gaga
While some of them die at the age of 21, weighting 40kg because of eating disorders like the super-model Ana Carolina Reston.
The other imposed aspect of beauty is sexuality. As the Internet came into the picture changing everything; pornography became not just accessible but inescapable. What is more, the language and the images of porn have become mainstream, porn has become cool, edgy.
Star of scores of porn films Lauren Phoenix appear in the American Appeal ads to sell tube socks to teens. Porn queen Jenna Jameson has launched her own fashion line.
Young celebrities emulate the porn stars, eg Miley Cyus performs pole dancing at a music awards ceremony.
So girls are encouraged to look like strippers and porn stars because it is the latest trend where the stereotype of “beautiful”, “attractive” and “hot” came to.
A research from American Psychological Association Task Force indicates “Virtually every media form studied provides ample evidence of the sexualization of women, including television, music videos, music lyrics, movies, magazines, sports media, video games, the Internet, and advertising (e.g., Gow, 1996; Grauerholz & King, 1997; Krassas, Blauwkamp, & Wesselink, 2001, 2003; Lin, 1997; Plous & Neptune, 1997; Vincent, 1989;Ward, 1995). Some studies have examined forms of media that are especially popular in with children and adolescents, such as video games and teen-focused magazines.
In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative object, or as body parts rather than a whole person). In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.“
As we are bombarded with sexually suggestive images, children of course receive them as normal; they think it is normal to be objectified sexually. The children and teenagers want to fit in with the norm, they want to resemble with their idols, and they want to be popular which is the key concept. Now to be popular you have to be hot, you have to give sexual energy. It’s essential to be sexy for them, it means being thin for most of the part, dressing in a certain way and having a certain attitude, which of course they take from imitating their idols.
The role of the Internet as a medium is obvious, it gives the children the access to everything and they can be traumatized with what they see. Nowadays it is backwards; finding porn on the Internet for a child is easy but talking to your child about sex is difficult. It should be the other way around (Sexy Inc. Our Children Under Influence – 2007).
Twelve year old girls use sex as a way to be respected so they know everything about sex even the lingo that most adults don’t know. For boys especially, porn becomes the standard, they have the impression that they have to perform like in the porns they watch. Teenage pregnancies spike up and there are TV shows about it, so it gives the impression that it is all justified.
What is also disturbing is that, thanks to Disney princesses and ‘concerned’ moms, girls start to worry about how they look even earlier – before they start school. Researchers based at the University of Central Florida asked a group of girls aged between three and six a series of questions about their body image before showing them extracts of cartoons featuring female characters.
The idea was to assess whether stereotypically thin princess characters, even in cartoons, were making girls worry about their body even before they start school.
Although nearly all girls liked the way they looked, self-report data indicated that nearly one-third of the participants would change something about their physical appearance and nearly half of the girls worried about being fat.
There are TV-shows openly abusing children, supporting the very early body dissatisfaction. In Baby Beauty Queens, nine-year-old Madison says “People say I’m really beautiful and things so there’s no point in wasting it.” She wants to be model, she says she does not want to stay at home; she wants to be out and doing things. It is a pity that the system poisons a nine-year-old mind to believe that it’s either becoming beautiful or staying at home. Being a model and being out is the only alternative to staying at home for ‘doing things’.
She gets fake tan, fake nails; wears make-up and gets her eyebrows shaped.
For her mother God-given talents are beauty and attitude.
During rehearsal little girl screams, “I don’t wanna, this is boring.” As does the little girl in the subconscious of all women, trying to make their appearance acceptable to the fake norms of beauty, to the ideal who from the beginning ‘was someone tall, thin, white, and blond, a face without pores, asymmetry, or flaws, someone wholly “perfect,” and someone whom they felt, in one way or another, they were not.’ (Wolf, 2002, p.1).
Another nine-year-old, Taila has highlights in hear hair. Her mother says she is the youngest child ever to wear contact lenses. Even though Taila says it’s definitely more comfortable to wear glasses, she wears lenses because her mother does not want her to wear glasses.
She started to wear make-up when she was six, had plastic surgery when she was seven. Her mother says she was worried when Taila was born, since she would not be cute because of her ears.
When gracefully aging is out of the question for women and wanting to be distinguished by being attractive has the most importance; they just start to look the same with those botoxed-to-expressionless faces, swelled lips and breasts while tummies and thighs are lipo-sucked away. Why not perform a full lobotomy since it is not encouraged to use the brain? Just cut it all out, it ruins the beauty anyway.
With the technological and medical improvements, knowing that someone out there is trying to find a way to make you a kidney from scratch, the mind wonders: where is it going with the very controlled choices we are making about how we look?
Eating disorders will be a lifestyle for sure, for the worrying mothers it would be a convenient shortcut to manipulate the genes of their unborn child rather than convincing her to have cosmetic surgery after birth. So why not order a child with the latest trends in beauty, and do you want her to look like a celebrity? Just choose one from our catalogue! This model has everything you have ever dreamt of and it is now half price off!
Maybe it is no good to get all pessimistic, Kilbourne says that decades of working and talking on the issue has finally started to pay off and she is now not alone; in Madrid in 2006 the fashion industry said they would stop using models below a certain body mass index. German women’s magazine announces that it is going to stop using professional models entirely in its pages and will only use real life women instead. Politicians in the EU have proposed a series of measures including labeling digitally altered models, encouraging diverse and healthy body sizes in all models and teaching media literacy in the schools. Maybe it is not enough to prevent the corruption all together but it may be a start and maybe the glass will be half-full one day.
- Baby Beauty Queens, 2009, BBC, Documentary
- Becker, Anne E. 1995. Body, self, and society; the view from Fiji. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
- Jean Kilbourne, Killing Us Softly Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2010. DVD.
- Kyung, J. L. (2000). Country experiences: Korea. In Changing lenses: Women’s perspectives on media (pp. 82–93). Manila, Philippines: ISIS International.
- Network, 1976, Motion Picture, MGM
- Sharon Hayes, Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, 'Am I too fat to be a princess? Examining the effects of popular children's media on young girls' body image', British Journal of Developmental Psychology', 2009
- Sophie Bisonnette, Sexy Inc. Our Children Under Influence, 2007, Documentary
- Wolf, N (1990) The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women