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Plastic surgery obsession in Western societies

January 15, 2010 3 comments

First off, I’m sorry for neglecting this little blog at the moment. I have some personal family things going on and I’m completely distracted and incoherent at times. I’m going to try and be as consistent as I can, but I can’t really guarantee that right now!

Anyway, by now, you might have seen Heidi Montag (The Hills) on the cover of People Magazine, being called a plastic surgery addict. She is 23 years old. I seriously don’t want to give Montag anymore press, but the issue of a plastic surgery obsession is of interest and is changing the landscape of image for women in North America. So first, here is Montag’s before and after photo, where she clearly had multiple procedures. Ten to be exact.

Um, I just need to say that she now looks 40, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s what she was going for. Isn’t our culture obsessed with youthfulness as well? Maybe Montag isn’t. Not sure.

So how is the availability of plastic surgery effecting women and girls in our society? Well, obviously we already know that women and girls alike are self-conscious about their appearance, and celebrities who do partake in plastic surgery don’t help the situation. I must say, the one good thing about Montag coming out and saying she’s had so much plastic surgery might mean that “normal” women and girls won’t even worry to compare themselves to her apparent “perfection”.

But what about the people that are having plastic surgery that claim they haven’t had any work done? Women and girls are still looking at those people and saying “Oh crap, I’m never going to look like that“, or “Wow…she’s so perfect. I wish I could be like that“, or something along those lines. Now that plastic surgery is readily available to those who can afford it, artificial beauty is becoming more commonplace.

And what does more artificial beauty create? Shitty feelings in women and girls. Low self-esteem. More image-consciousness. The feeling to need “perfection”. We know that women and girls are valued in terms of their appearance, but as the obsession with plastic surgery grows, I think this value based on appearance will grow as well, which is disheartening. Now, I am not blaming celebrities and other people who can afford it, for getting plastic surgery. We do have beauty standards in our society for women and there is absolute pressure to be a part of that standard. I guess what I’m wishing for is a society where these things never mattered. A society where women and girls were not valued for their appearance over a lot of other things, such as intelligence, talents, or individual personalities.

Do you agree? Do you think our society’s obsession with plastic surgery will ultimately hurt women and girls in the end?

Why must activism happen AFTER the wrong act?

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, I read about how the Richmond High students came together, along with community members and the mayor, for an event to support the girl who was gang raped and speak out against sexism and racism which is still so pervasive in our culture.

The white streamers were everywhere – worn as armbands, headbands, neckties, leg-bands – as hundreds of Richmond High School students gathered on the football field with teachers, parents and community members to express their support for the victim of a horrendous gang rape on the school grounds and their determination to act together to prevent future violence.

The speakers spoke of “building a culture that rejects racist and sexist actions and comments and fights back against the underlying social conditions in which such attitudes flourish.” As well as mentioning how these injustices need to be faced on a daily basis, not just after “one acute problem”.

This is all great. This is all fine and dandy and in fact, it seems like a great community movement at this point and who knows, some of those Richmond High students could go on and be the next leaders in fighting social injustice. However, my question is this, why does it take one horrendously wrong act, or “acute problem”, to create activism within people?

If you think about it, many horrendous acts of sexism or racism (or any other ism) wouldn’t occur if the activism was done on a daily basis. As the mayor said at the Richmond gathering, there would be “no bystanders”. That’s the whole point, right? If activism is performed everyday and people are educated about things like sexism and racism, people will no longer be passive about what’s happening around them.

But what gets them to the point of activism? Obviously, to some extend, something has to be there already. Usually something broad, like sexism or racism. I mean, if those things didn’t already exist, we wouldn’t of had great activist leaders of our time, like Gloria Steinem and Martin Luther King Jr. However, when it comes to individual (but extremely serious) incidents, such as the gang rape in Richmond, CA, why wouldn’t people do something about this at the time it was all happening? Everyone knows that something like gang rape is wrong. I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that they thought that what they were doing was just fine, even if they might have been in an impaired state due to alcohol. Everyone has a moral compass, and gang rape is off the charts, screaming “WRONG”.

But had people not been educated enough about these things? Did these people who were bystanders, or participants think they didn’t have a voice and therefore couldn’t be against this? And how does one get a voice when it comes to injustice anyway? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but these are things that need to be addressed. We cannot just continuously wait for the next horrendous crime against a girl or woman to occur and jump on the whoa-we-need-to-fight-sexism train. This is an ongoing battle, and activism must take place before these incidents occur.

I’m not trying to knock whatever Richmond is doing right now. I think it’s good that they are collectively realizing what’s going on in our society today and will hopefully push towards a society where sexism isn’t so pervasive. However, what I am saying is that activism after the wrong act is too late. It’s too late for that 15 year-old girl. It’s too late for others who have been raped or murdered because of sexism or racism.

We all need to be collective in our actions and make sure that it’s never too late again, for anyone.

Thank you, Joanne Lipman

October 26, 2009 3 comments

A refreshing Op-Ed piece has come out of the New York Times, by Joanne Lipman. It is entitled The Mismeasure of Woman. And here, she speaks the truth:

The truth is, women haven’t come nearly as far as we would have predicted 25 years ago. Somewhere along the line, especially in recent years, progress for women has stalled. And attitudes have taken a giant leap backward.

But apparently, since we measure things by numbers (an example being the Shriver Report), we see that women are making a progression. Lipman takes on this notion, and points out that women are not making nearly as much progression as they maybe should be. She talks about how attitudes towards women have pretty much become toxic, and that you have to be one stereotype or the other. How true is that of our society? Women are constantly polarized. You have to be the good girl, or the bad girl.

One telling thing I found was when she mentioned some of her own college experience:

When I was in college in the 1980s, many of us looked derisively at the women’s liberation movement. That was something that strident, humorless, shrill women had done before us.

Was this a part of the problem that caused attitudes to shift? It’s not just about men, but about so many women that look at that feminist movement as something that it wasn’t, and something that the women were not. It’s so unfortunate that these ideas of the feminist movement, along with those women have been made into what they are today. Although I’m not saying that Lipman still has those feelings, I just thought that was telling, as she talks about attitudes towards women being one of the things that sets women back.

I really encourage you to read the whole article. What I am saying definitely does not do it any justice. Lipman has some great ideas and it’s a very interesting piece…so head on over the article now!

A rant.

October 26, 2009 Leave a comment

After reading some more about that whole Oklahoma women shaming, my blood has just once again boiled. Seriously, this anti-abortion stuff/women shaming stuff makes my blood boil so much, it’s crazy.

It just got me thinking about how in the world could so many people believe that women and men are equal? How could they believe this when clearly, women are oppressed? It is because it’s written into law? Is it because we’re now told that women and men are equal? Or…is it because people are kind of just lazy nowadays and don’t care that much?

I guess it probably is true that there is misinformation out there, and that people are not being educated properly on these things. But if people think there’s equality because it’s written into law, I ask, how does something written down trump a society’s power and privilege system, which is so historical and intertwined within everything in our society?

But then, there are the people who actually believe that gender inequality is okay. Do they enjoy shaming women into not having abortions? Do they enjoy not wanting to give women a choice about whether they stay at home with the kids or work? Do they enjoy the other many oppressing things that women face? My cynical self believes that they may sometimes enjoy shaming women, or at least think that it needs to be done. Maybe “enjoy” isn’t the write word, but these people obviously think they know what’s best.

What actually needs to be done to combat this? As the book says, “We Don’t Need Another Wave“. I’ve personally never read the book, but I agree with the title. We don’t need another era of huge political activism where constant demonstrations are being held (although we do need some of those). I think we need to be constantly politically active* in our everyday lives. It seems simple, but how many of us are actually politically active in our everyday lives? Do we stand up for what we believe in everyday? Do we write about and spread our beliefs around so that everyone can read/hear? Do we call out our closest friends when they make the most sexist or racist joke you’ve ever heard? Once you get uncomfortable and you know something is against your beliefs as a feminist, or anti-racist, etc…you need to step up and hold that title and possibly make those other people uncomfortable in the process. You do not have to be on the side of the majority. Really. You don’t have to be. In fact, I discourage it, unless the majority becomes people who believe and ACT ON the belief that everyone (gender, race, class, sexuality, etc) is equal.

We have a far way to come. We need to be on our toes constantly, seeing how we can stand up for what is right. You may think that you are doing the most insignificant thing by saying something, or blogging something, but you never know how it may affect one person. And we should all know, sometimes, it only takes the mobilization of one person, to change everything.

*by me saying that we need to be constantly politically active, I do not mean sitting behind a computer and joining a Facebook group that supports your cause…and then doing nothing about it.

Categories: feminism, general, rant, sexism, society

Sexism and racism found in customer service study

July 20, 2009 Leave a comment

A recent study found that customers in North America are found to be more satisfied when they receive service from white males, as opposed to women and minorities. How am I not surprised…?

The research by University of British Columbia professor Karl Aquino found that female and minority employees who exhibited the same behaviours as their white male counterparts were rated lower in anonymous customer feedback surveys.

The group that was conducting the study were actually very surprised.

“We had thought there would be some bias going on in the sense of people who were males or whites would be rated more positively,” Aquino said

“But we didn’t anticipate that for performing the same behaviours, the women and minorities would actually be rated lower,” he said of the study to be published in the Academy of Management Journal.

On statistic shows that a “white male clerk’s service, for the same pre-scripted actions, was rated 19 per cent higher than the service from a female or black male.”

Nineteen percent?! That’s a little ridiculous. Honestly though, I’m not overly shocked. I believe that we have this notion ingrained in us that the “white male” is the most trusted person on the planet, that there is none other more qualified, therefore they obviously provide the best service. Also, this of course has to do with the power that the white male has as well. It definitely affects how we respond to people, even if it is completely subconscious. But how do we get away from this thinking? I don’t know if I have a good answer to that. There are so many things that need to be changed in our society before we can change our thinking completely. We definitely need to vocalize how this sexism and racism is wrong, and that the white male is not the be all and end all of the human population, and we need to start teaching this to the younger folk who are being fed this patriarchal, white-power society.

This kind of thing just discourages me. It just reminds me (not that I need too many reminders!) that sexism and racism are unfortunately ingrained in our minds and that this kind of thinking is going to be so hard to beat.

Categories: inequality, men, racism, sexism, society, work

Pop Culture Hit: Lily Allen’s “22”

July 14, 2009 1 comment

Well, not to plug anything, but Lily Allen has a new single called “22“. When I first heard it, I quite enjoyed it (and I admit, I still do). It’s a catchy song and I found myself immediately connected to it because of the fact that I am…22!

However, upon listening to it more, something made me uneasy. The song is about a woman who is nearly 30. She’s still going out a lot, has a decent job, but not a “career”, and has one night stands, but really just wants a boyfriend. The chorus then chimes in with these words:

It’s sad but it’s true how society says
Her life is already over
There’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to say
Til the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

When I first realized what was being sang, I was hoping that Allen was singing this in an attempt to mock society because of this notion…but after listening many times, I don’t get that vibe. I get the vibe that this song is actually saying that a woman’s life is over after her early 20s, until a man comes in a sweeps her off her feet!

What the heck is with that? This is just another example of our society valuing a woman’s youthfulness and when that’s over, life is over. That is, if you don’t have a boyfriend/fiancee/husband/kids. It seems as though a woman’s life is always defined by others. It is never ourselves that are able to stand alone, and be the definition of ourselves.

The premise of this song just worries me because Allen has many female fans, who can be very influenced by her. This song is solidifying the idea that a woman needs a man to have a fulfilling life. And by the way, I don’t think a man needs a woman to have a fulfilling life either…it goes both ways.

I personally know many older women (and by older, I mean in their 60s+) who have had amazing lives and have not been married or had children. They had the opportunities to do what they wanted, go for their own dreams and pursue their passions. I admire these women because they didn’t give into society’s confining norms. They are amazing role models! It is just so sad how this message is getting out to young girls and teenagers.

And I for one, at 22, hope that my life will not be over by my late 20s. It’s easy to give into that thought. I have before, but I’m refusing to do so now. There is too much living to be done for the many decades to come to even consider this notion!

I hope that I’m not the only one who feels this way.