"Just about everyone feels personally exempt from the influence of advertising."
"[Ads] create an environment we all swim in... a toxic cultural environment."
"Ads sell more than products... They sell concepts of normalcy... They tell us who we are and who we should want to be."
"Women of color are only considered beautiful if they approximate the white ideal."
"Women's bodies are constantly turned into objects."
"Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person."
"The obsession with thinness is about cutting girls down to size."
"We have an epidemic of eating disorders."
"Eating has become a moral issue."
"The ultimate impact [of a single version of beauty] is profoundly anti-erotic."
"[If there's only one way to be beautiful on offer], it can hardly be considered a choice to choose it."
"Public health problems can only be solved by changing the environment."
What we can do / What we need:
--"[to become] a public that thinks of themselves as citizens rather than primarily as consumers."
--> REFLECTION DRAFTED 23/04/12
I've been thinking a lot this week (while reading on in The Beauty Myth) about Kilbourne's belief that our sex-obsessed ad culture is "profoundly anti-erotic." Wolf talks about how the ad culture "depends on sexual estrangement" and "is fueled by sexual dissatisfaction." I'm not sure if this makes me want to cry or laugh out loud--probably a little of both. How utterly ridiculous it is that "what they sell is sexual discontent"! (143)
Some of my dearest friends, Gaby & Selden, who live in California, achieve more than anyone I've known what Wolf describes as "real mutuality--an equal gaze, equal vulnerability, equal desire" (152). For them, human beings are human beings, male and female alike. They are aware citizen activists with high media literacy who prize discussion. They think of themselves primarily as citizens, not as consumers (all as Kilbourne suggests is necessary to be free and healthier).
I've also been thinking a lot about the environment and how, as Kilbourne says, "[Ads] create an environment we all swim in... a toxic cultural environment." I knew in high school that girls' and women's magazines were not healthy for me overall, that they were not contributing to a better life or sense of self and so forth, so I gave them up when I was sixteen. Similarly, a couple of years later, I stopped watching television as a college freshmen (which lasted with very few exceptions for fourteen years until my surgery this winter made television more appealing)! Yet I wouldn't say that abstinence is the answer; nor would I say that it really works. Quitting beauty/glossy magazines and television certainly meant I was less exposed to beauty imagery ("beauty pornography"), but it did not mean that I was immune. In my experience, unless you live alone on an island, beauty imagery finds you wherever you are.
I think violence is the most distressing and urgent manifestation of the beauty myth. As Kilbourne states, "Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person," and most of the images we see turn women into things. Wolf, too, will talk more about violence soon--an upcoming chapter is called "Violence"--and we've the presentation(s) from "Solace: Women's Aid" to consider as well as our course continues...