Monday, March 24, 2014

Why I'm not mad about images of women in the mainstream media.

It's been a while since I really got into a blog entry. It's not that I haven't thought of it, or that I've had writer's block. I've just sort of had other things that were more important. I've been really focused on working out, and somewhat less focused on doing research for a paper I have due next week. But my thoughts are always brewing, and I've had something on the back burner that I wanted to write about as soon as I had a good chance. I already posted a gym rat flexing photo on Instagram, so I can relax on the gym for a few days(I'll call myself out on that so you don't have to). And now it's crunch time for that paper, and I haven't written a single word of it. But I have at least mostly read the source material and highlighted some shit that sounded important, so now it's time to do whatever I please until about 12 hours before it's due.

I've been thinking a lot lately about body image and self esteem. I think it's been on my mind because I have been spending so much time at  the gym lately, and thinking about my own body. That, coupled with the wild debate that was sparked on Facebook over the No Makeup Selfie Challenge (which I made a video about) has got self esteem, body image and the defintion of beauty on my mind. I've been thinking a lot about where self esteem comes from, where I get my own from, who is responsible for it and how women(or anyone) can feel better about their physical selves.

Inveitably, in any conversation(even inside one's own head) about self esteem/body image, the topic of images of women in the mainstream media is brought up-and usually people are pretty outraged by it. The media is constantly battering us with images of an unattainable standard of beauty-skinny, tall, blonde, perfect skin, perfect teeth, no cellulite, no anything that could be perceived as ugly or imperfect. I understand why this is so upsetting to people-I have had my own struggles with body image and feelings of inadquecy because I didn't feel like my body-and in turn myself as person-was good enough. But you know what? I am over being mad at the media. I think we need to accept it for what it is and move on.

It definitely is my first instinct to be really angry towards the mainstream media for the way that women are generally portrayed. But I have a few things that I like to say to myself when a person or a situation makes me angry. One is "The only person that you can control is yourself", another is "When you let someone make you angry, you are giving them your energy and letting them have control over you". So in this situation, like any other, I ask myself, what can I do to make it better? And what can I honestly expect out of the other party involved?

Mainstream media-television, blockbuster movies, magazines-what are they trying to do? They are trying to sell you something, and they are going to do that by showing you images of what they have determined through focus groups and whatever other forms of research they do as being attractive to as many people as possible. That's just how it is. That's how it's always been. You're intelligent, you know this. You can get as mad as you want about it, but they aren't going to change. And even when they do make what looks like a step in the right direction, it's still motivated by profit. The mainstream media is never going to be at the forefront of any movement to improve self love and body image. I think it's a waste of your precious time and energy to get mad. It's like getting mad at a dumb person for being dumb. They can't help it, that's just the way they are.

So do I think that we should all just accept that there will never be postive, realistic images of women in the media? Fuck no! I think that we should be taking the energy that we are saving by not giving a fuck what the mainstream media says and using it to become the kind of women(or people) that we want to see represented in magazines and on TV. Rather than feeling sorry for yourself because you don't think you measure up, start doing something to show the world that you DO measure up and maybe you're even fucking awesome. Don't be a victim, don't let them have that. Don't let the beauty myth get you down, don't let anyone tell you what you should look like, don't give them the satisfaction of being right that only a certain body type deserves happiness any success. Don't waste your energy. You have better things to do.

But what if you need a little inspiration? Well I have good news. The mainstream media doesn't have shit on the internet-where I think we spend most of our time anyway. You can find positive imagery of every type of human being imaginable on the internet. There are tons of amazing body positivity resources on the internet. Instead of looking at a magazine that makes you feel sad about your body, don't buy them, ignore them! Try to find some blogs or websites that speak to your idea of what's beautiful. Here's one right now to get you started: http://fuckyeahbodypositivity.tumblr.com/ Fill your mind with those images and positive messages-and soon enough, you'll actually believe them. And the more you support that kind of media, the less relevant the "mainstream" media is. If we keep paying attention to the mainstream media and their shitty messages about our bodies, even if what we say is negative, we are still giving them power. We're still talking about it. Let's all shut up about it and focus on the forms of media that really speak to us, and hopefully one day the dumb mainstream media with its' shitty messages about our bodies will just fizzle out, because we don't even care enough to get mad at them anymore.

Look, I understand that the beauty myth created by the mainstream media has done real damage. I feel like it has hurt me personally. But I'm over being angry about it. I've been angry about it for a long time, and I want to let it go. I don't want to let a magazine or a fashion show or a movie have the power to make me feel bad about myself. I'd rather use that energy to work towards making myself a better person, and supporting the women who I think deserve to be in the spotlight. Accept the mainstream media for what it is-a big idiot, who thinks everyone else is an idiot too, and uses stupid, tired tactics to get us to give them our money. I know you're smarter than that, so let's accept it and move on. Rise above.
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This is Louise, one of my favourite YouTubers/bloggers. Just wanted to throw in a shot of one of the alternative media ladies I love. You can find her at https://www.youtube.com/user/Sprinkleofglitter


Woo! That felt good. I would love to hear other people's thoughts on this. I feel like there could be a lot of different perspectives-like maybe I would feel totally different if I had a daughter. I've been pretty ranty lately, but I'm not a very angry ranter. I'm like, this is my take on something, what's yours? Ooh, that's good too, you might be right. Plus if we get talking about it I will have another reason to not return to my paper writing, and I would really appreciate that.

Thanks for reading.

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