Angry [rambly rant alert]

Heather's great post on Tuesday got me reflecting on the pressures our society puts on women and girls.

When it comes to women's bodies, our culture usually completely fails to recognize that there are different body types.

As examples of people who've achieved the ideal, it holds up celebrities who have unlimited access to makeup artists, personal trainers, and plastic surgeons, who by virtue of having made it in show business have generally been pre-selected to have that body type, and who are, in most of the images we see of them, airbrushed to an absurdly deceptive degree.

Most real girls are unable to achieve that image without hurting themselves.

And all the time there's this idea that the most valuable thing about a woman is her body!

Celebrity magazines are constantly gossiping about so-and-so's latest diet or plastic surgery, analyzing bikini pictures to see who's gained and lost weight. The way they carry on, it's like it's incontrovertible that a woman's chest is at least as important as anything that might be in her head.

A female star short of middle age can hardly be in a shot that doesn't call attention to her body - whereas men get to be completely covered even on the Sexiest Man Alive covers.

Do magazines for teenage guys tell them how to get ready for Speedo season?

Is it possible that society expect girls to be preoccupied with the way they look and their bodies because IT considers their looks and bodies to be the most important things about them?

Why do rules require professional female beach volleyball players to wear skimpy bikinis while male players get to wear trunks?

Why must a woman in an advertisement be scantily clad in order to sell bottled water?

Why are there so many fewer roles for "older" (meaning middle-aged or maybe even younger) actresses than for actors of the same age?

Why should a brilliant female scientist or rising corporate star in the news always be expected to be also glamorous?

There's SO MUCH in our society that is destructive and demeaning towards girls and women, so much about the standards it holds us up to that is wrong or unrealistic.

And yet it's myself I'm quickest to be angry at when I fall short of these expectations.

Something is wrong here.


Nerd Goddess 6/08/2008 4:13 PM  

Agreed. Something IS wrong. And it's something that's really, really hard to change. I know for me, I'm constantly fighting an inner battle with myself, in which part of me is screaming that I don't look right, that I'm not pretty, etc. And then part of me is trying to say, "but maybe you are!" After telling myself for years that I haven't looked good, it's hard to accept a compliment from anyone, even my boyfriend. But it's something we have to work on, and bit by bit, we can chip away at our inner critics, and try to fight what the media says we should be.

Phew. I think I might need to do a post about the subject myself. ;)

cuileann 6/08/2008 4:24 PM  

It is so hard, even when you're completely conscious that all those horrible thoughts were put in your head by the media! Makes you realize just how weak and how strong a human spirit is.

And you should, you should! It'd be brilliant and full of jewels of Celes-wisdom.

Q 6/08/2008 4:44 PM  

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight in order to be HEALTHY, as long as you do it the RIGHT WAY.

(Right Way = don't eat more than you're hungry for, exercise thirty minutes every day, limit yourself to one or two sweets per day, increase intake of vegetables, and good stuff like that)

But putting yourself down because you're not as terribly thin as they are and because there's NO way you're ever going to pull off this skirt or that swimsuit is wrong, especially if your body type is just different.

It's so so hard for girls and women to love ourselves. It's hard for me sometimes, and I think I'm pretty good about what I think about myself. I've identified my main problems and tried to concole myself with the fact that I can't change them without plastic surgery, something I never want to have.

One good thing about this lovely blogging community is that we can only judge on words and ideas. Even though I've never met most of you, I think you ladies are all beautiful. :)

hwalk 6/08/2008 4:53 PM  

I've sort of thought about it a bit more, and I've realized that it's always been like this, through ever society, but for different reasons. Doesn't make it any better at all. Maybe someday we'll be able to let it go . . .

cuileann 6/08/2008 5:10 PM  

Amen on every count, Q! Going to college and living in a dorm full of young women has really taught me how true it is that body image is something every girl struggles with to some degree. As for me, in trying to deal with freshman year poundage (NOT helpful!) I'm trying to think the way you put it - I keep away from scales, wear clothes that fit well, I exercise and try to eat well, and concentrate on just being healthy. It requires quite a shift of mind.

hwalk - Maybe, maybe a generation will "emerge from the flood into which we are sinking." :) We're not powerless...:)

cuileann 6/08/2008 5:14 PM  

And I am quite, quite taken with that last notion, Q. It is lovely to think that a bunch of people making their wonderful selves heard and listening to each other could become friends like we have.

Patrice 6/08/2008 5:47 PM  

What annoys me the most is in all the tabloids, the sections where they friggen analyse womans breasts, deciding if she has implants or not. And the fact that a woman doesn't get any attention in the media unless she's beautiful and barely clothed, opposed to someone who's actually talented and dedicated in what they do.

cuileann 6/08/2008 6:02 PM  

I know (grr!). They just reduce a woman to separate body parts and then act as though they belong to anyone who cares to discuss or speculate about them. Sigh. I tell ya, it's sexism.

Cassandra 6/09/2008 12:51 AM  

Amen! That was incredibly insightful, and so true! It distresses me that society pushes such unrealistic images of photoshopped women onto us. I mean, I've recently resigned myself to the fact that I'm never going to be able to get that thin without starving myself, trying to accept myself for the way I am, but it is definitely difficult, and I get depressed about it sometimes, I'll admit. I just don't think it's fair that we have to put up with this. Hmph. Societal standards need a royal kick in the arse...

cuileann 6/09/2008 1:29 AM  

Hey, maybe you're the person to deliver that kick. :) Real girls need to keep making their voices heard on this and similar issues. I don't know exactly what we can do, but it's we who are the ascendant ones...

And I know what you mean. It really is a daily battle, learning to love oneself. Keep on trucking, amiga.

Erin 6/09/2008 3:02 PM  

"Why are there so many fewer roles for "older" (meaning middle-aged or maybe even younger) actresses than for actors of the same age?"
I am currently working up a post for my acting blog that is similar to this query, except posing the same question about teen girl roles as well...a good percentage of the teen girl roles out there are deploringly sexist.

Really great post.

cuileann 6/09/2008 3:06 PM  

Thanks. :) I'm looking forward to reading that post.

ennagirl 6/09/2008 7:58 PM  

I agree completely.
I watched about 2 minutes of America's Next Top Model and decided I liked myself better a bit flabby than a total twig that could break its own legs while walking.

sui 4/11/2012 4:33 PM  

i remember, right before my ED became most serious, ranting about how stupid pro-ED communities were, how terrible they were...

Holly 4/11/2012 8:16 PM  

sui - timelines are revealing. did you ever belong to one? i did.

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