Today is Friday, August 9, 2013.
The media, the fashion industry and the cosmetic industry all constantly remind women of their flaws for one big reason: money. They remind us that we need to look thinner, that our gray hair is not very exciting, that our lips are too thin and therefore not sexy enough. If we own one of these flaws and begin to obsess about it enough, we will eventually spend money on some kind of quick fix that will solve all our problems. Except that it won’t solve them, or at least, not for long. If one product doesn’t work, we’ll go back to the store and buy another product.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite, are 27-year-old identical twin sisters who will be receiving their PhDs in Communication at the University of Utah this summer. They have a web site called Beauty Redefined, and they maintain a Facebook page under the same name.. They have been studying representations of female bodies in popular media. In their own words, “Beauty Redefined represents our not-for-profit work through the Beauty Redefined Foundation (501(c)(3)) to take back beauty for girls and women everywhere through continuing the discussion about body image, women’s potential and media influence through this website, our Facebook page and most prominently through regular speaking engagements in both secular and religious settings, from universities and high schools to professional conferences and church congregations for all ages.”
The Kites suggest that the next time women hear or read about a beauty ideal they don’t meet, they should “flip the script.” Reverse the gender to see what the situation would be if it were about men. Would men pose that way in a TV ad? Would a journalist describe a male politician in the same way? Do men greet each other by noticing their hairstyle, clothes, or weight loss? The answer is, of course not! But women are taught in our society that they are objects to be looked at. They are taught that if they want to attract men, they need to look a certain way.
Sure, some men do worry about their physique, but they don’t obsess about it the way women do. They don’t seem at all concerned about getting gray hair. The ones who wear facial hair don’t necessarily do it to attract women. At least, that’s not the number one reason. They don’t generally worry at all about their skin or their eyebrows. They do not get nips and tucks or implants.
Here are some suggestions for flipping the script.
1. Compliment your women friends on other things besides their looks. (We do this for men; why not women, too?)
2. Talk to little girls about anything else besides their pretty dress. (We don’t generally comment on a little boy’s clothes.)
3. Consider that the men you love don’t feel that they have to use an endless assortment of products to make them look good, and that they don’t feel the need to go in for tummy tucks and other expensive and often painful procedures. Why should you?
4. Stop the fat-talk about your own body, especially within earshot of young girls.
5. Think twice about watching TV shows and movies that treat women as objects, rather than as people.
6. Consider canceling subscriptions to beauty magazines that exist purely to advertise fashions and products.
7. When you hear about a beauty product or a certain type of fashion that is supposed to make you look slimmer or sexier, ask yourself whether a man would buy this product or wear this item (especially if it’s tight and uncomfortable).
It’s fine to dress in a way that makes you look and feel good, but remember that the vast majority of photographs nowadays are altered using Photoshop, and they no longer represent real human bodies. Don’t try to match what you see in the fashion magazines. You can’t. And you don’t have to. 🙂