Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ad-nauseum

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you just wanted to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over your head? I was seriously considering doing just that today. I was tired. My head hurt. Between work and school I've been going non-stop since January. This girl could use a break! But I was prepared to soldier on and be a productive member of society. Well, maybe I thought I could manage to drag myself into work at the very least. Then, I made a major tactical error during my morning preparations. I tried on a pair of pants that used to fit me just fine only to discover that they are a little tighter in the thigh than they used to be. And that was it. I was officially too depressed to carry on. I suddenly felt hopeless and ugly. The idea of going out and facing people today was just overwhelming. How could I possibly expose myself to the judgments and critisims of the outside world when I'm obviously putting on so much weight? Add to that my current issues with my skin (ANOTHER effing zit? gah!) and I was seriously considering calling in sick today.

Kind of stupid, huh?

I mean, with all the real issues going on the world, am I actually this concerned about my thighs?!

I'm taking a sociology course right now as part of my general education requirements for a degree in journalism. I am loving this class. The teacher is engaging, open minded and very approachable. She runs a relaxed class that encourages discussion. I have a big mouth, I like discussion.

Last week we watched a film called Killing Us Softly, made by Jean Kilbourne. The piece is about the advertisements we are bombarded with all day, every day and how they tend to portray women. Kilbourne says that we see an average of 3,000 ads a day and spend about two YEARS of our lives watching television commercials (not the shows, just the commercials!). While most people say that the ads they see don't affect them, the truth is that they really do (as evidenced from my near breakdown this morning). Advertisements have a cumulative effect. You may not run out and buy the new Ford Mustang because you saw the commercial for it, but the message of the ad works on a sub-conscious level and is reinforced throughout the day by the other 2,999 ads you see. Messages like what a woman should look like and how men should behave etc.

The point of Ms. Kilbourne's film was that women are very often portrayed as submissive and are exclusively valued for their appearance. She uses a plethora of ads throughout the presentation to get her point across. Over and over again you see stick thin women, in overtly sexual, submissive poses while men are usually portrayed as powerful and active. Not a huge shock there. I don't know a woman in this country who is totally free from the pressure society puts on us to be attractive. We are taught from an early age that "pretty" is the ideal and to deviate from that is going to have major consequences. People won't like you, you won't get a husband, you won't be valued as a member of our society, blah, blah, blah.

With all this insanity bombarding us every day, is it any wonder our priorities might be a little skewed?


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I mean check out that first picture. When do you think that poor girl ate last? Yikes!

Here's the amusing part. When we talk about wanting equality in our society ie. for men and women to be valued and respected equally, part of what we are talking about is seeing more images like this:

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...and one of my all time favorites...

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NOT this:

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The copy reads -

Aging Gracefully?
Vince Vaughn epitomized Los Angeles' swinging lifestyle in "Swingers," when his svelte figure cut a fine silhouette in his shiny bowling shirts. Today, Vaughn covers a paunchier waistline in "The Breakup." Maybe no one told him he wasn't supposed to eat all that cake in "The Wedding Crashers."

11 comments:

dusty said...

I love this post! I envy you,being young and able to go to school now. I took sociology classes in the 70's and our slant was vastly different than todays subjects studied.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I linked to you...I really enjoyed reading your stuff :)

The pics are great..the fat barbie..I want a copy of it!

Painter Beach Girl said...

Yeah, and although intellectually, I get all this and agree that what we see on TV and movies have dictated to us "how things ought to be for women and men", I still hate it when I get a zit or when my waistline has shifted a bit (to be more than fits in my jeans). I think part of it is that at some point in our lives, there is an "us" that we liked and if any part of that changes, we get critical because we want to be where we once were, feeling good about ourselves and whatnot...I should post an blog entry on this I suppose instead of leaving a million word comment on here...sorry!! Great post by the way!!!

Marz said...

Guuurl, shit like this is why I am studying Communication smyself. Remind me to lend you my reader on Gender, Class and

You are beautiful just the way you are. Have you checked the moon cycle? Patch be damned, you're affected by this stuff.

meesh said...

Marz, You might be on to something there. I blame the moon. :) Also, I am SURE that those pants just shrunk up all on their own. They are made of cotton!

Dusty, Thank you so much for the comment. I was blown away by your blog. So professional and informational! Thanks so much for the link.

P.B.G., You leave as long a comment as you want on my blog. I'm honored that you'd want to. :) I also think that you're right about that "idealized" self we can have in our heads. I know I sometimes I wish I still looked the way I did two years ago when I was a skinny minny. The problem is that I was only skinny because I was really sick. Not good at all.

GingerStep said...

guuuurl, I hate those days!! I have at least one a week. and then I realize I just need to drink a few glasses of water and go for a walk...water retention and stress do us girls in!

You're right, our selfimages are whack and they're just getting worse. Health is one thing, but that's rarely ever the goal. I find my self freaking out that I'll never be a 2...a 2!! please, last time I was a 2 I had no hips, my breasts were inverted and I was dining on laxitives 5 times a day...no. There are people who are built for a size 2, a size 0...they should wear them. There are people built for other sizes too and there's nothing wrong with that. Variety is the spice of life right?

Peter Matthes said...

This whole week I have wanted to stay in bed with the AC on full blast.

Instead, I had to paint my whole apartment in muggy 80 degree weather.

I think I lost serious weight this week, but I don't recommend the process. I have seven shirts that look like I went swimming in them.

Ms. S said...

Meesh, you are a beautiful and amazing person. I would rather spend an hour in your presence that be with one of those chicks that don't know how to appreciate a good meal.

I know that we all struggle with our body images. Lord knows I do, but I really try to focus on being the best person that I can be, whether I'm a size 16 or size 8. It's the inside that founds.

The Lone Beader said...

This is why I no longer watch TV....Life is so much more interesting without it.

Cherry Red said...

Hi Meesh,

What a great post! It's so true. I have a baby neice and I just keep hoping that she won't grow up thinking that a few extra pounds makes her any less of a person.

Women have to stick together. If we decide that judging each other by our appearances is not ok, then it's won't be ok.

That being said, I'm working like hell to take off some weight I've gained in the last couple of years at my desk job. I've been working out 5 days a week for an hour (for 2 months) and I've yet to lose a pound. It makes me feel so down on myself. I know I should focus on the getting healthier and feeling better part, but it's hard. I want better than that for my niece and for all the little girls out there.

KleoPatra said...

Quite an entry here, Meesh. Kudos and thank you.

As an active, fairly normal kid, i succumbed to an eating disorder (anorexia 24 years ago at age 16, brought on not by family dysfunction but rather due to societal pressure to be think).

I am thankful every day that i was able to beat it... really to beat society at what it says is "the way to be."

I don't have TV but you can't get away from the images of perfection (and i mean for men as well as women) in all other media outlets... working in journalism only calls more attention to what's really out there.

And to me, it truly is "out there."

Thank you for writing about this!

KleoPatra said...

I meant, above, the societal pressure to be THIN, not think!

Boy, how Freudian that slip was...

:o)