Monday, July 8, 2013

Selling to our Psyche

I have noticed an alarming trend in the media lately.  The “new” selling to our psyche is directed at a man’s worth and physical appearance.  I have seen this coming for a long time but it has become very apparent in the past few months. 

Ordinarily I am not very good at remembering exact examples but this time I do have two for you.  I saw the first one about a month ago.  I was flipping through the channels and ABC was advertising “Man Candy Mondays” coming this fall.  It was disgusting.  You can check if out for yourself.  This week I saw a commercial for a men's groomer.  Hey, I'm all for trimming hair here and there but this was ridiculous.  There was a man walking around and pointing at women.  He says something like, "This is Shelly.  She likes a man with no facial or back hair." Then they show a guy trimming with their product.  "This is Tina.  She likes a man with a smooth chest."  More trimming. And finally, "And this is Regina and she likes a man with no hair at all."  Then she responds shrugging and acting "innocent" "What?  It's true." Giggle, giggle.  The final statement by the man is, "Give her what she wants."  And then there is a final shot of the product.  I was shocked by the whole thing.  The media has been objectifying our daughters for decades and now they are going after our sons. 

I am a feminist.  If you think that means I am for women and not men you would be wrong.  I am for all of us.  I am a feminist because women have been made less than for centuries and damn it, the buck stops here.  Or I should say I wish I could stop that mind set.  Women are incredible, strong, smart, multi tasking, caring, supportive and dang it, we just get things done.  Because we have been taught that it's not lady like to brag about our accomplishments, we often go under the radar with our successes.  Men, on the other hand, have been taught to be strong, tough, non emotional and just take it, whatever "it" is.  When you get "it" you can brag about it and talk up your accomplishments.  It's a double standard.  

Over the past 40 years women have been overtly objectified by the media in increasing proportions. "In one week American teenagers spend 31 hours watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, 3 hours watching movies, 4 hours reading magazines, 10 hours online. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day." courtesy of Miss Representation.  That is a LOT of media time.  Women are made fun of and deemed "less than" for being; fat, gangly, ugly, not pretty enough, dumb, smart, not wearing the right thing, having all the wrong clothes, not wearing make up, wearing too much make up, covering up, not covering up and so on.  It's a no win situation for our girls AND our boys.  They absorb all this information no matter what we do.  Our girls are being taught that their value lies in their external shell.  Our boys are taught to treat our girls as objects and to ogle at them.  They are taught that it is their right, nay duty to judge women according to the media's unattainable standards.  By being fed these values they are missing the greater part of the other, their being. 

Some say just look away.  Don't give them the power.  Unless you live off the grid and in a hole there is no way to get away from their message. It's written into movies and TV shows, it's on the "news," it's in the paper, in the supermarkets, drug stores, in commercials and don't get me started on the irritainment shows.  I don't get fashion magazines, I talk to my kids about what the media says vs. the truth, I challenge them to see people and not image.  We do not have cable or Dish.  I strive to educate and divert the attention of my children.  I want them to see people, really see them.  If you were wearing a blind fold and talked to someone what would you take away?  It is what we all should strive for.  It's what someone knows, stands for, how they treat another person and what their values are that count.  

I saw a Dustin Hoffman video today that made me think.  When he made the movie Tootsie in 1982 he asked the make up artists to make him "beautiful" and they basically said, "That's as good as it gets." It made him sad, very sad.  He knew he looked like a woman but he was not an attractive one.  He got to thinking.  He thought he made an interesting woman and was sad because our society trained him to ignore a woman that looked like he did.  He felt he had really missed out on some great people because of how they looked not because of who they were.  It was a hard realization.   

While this has happened to women for many many years, the media is now directing their machine at a man's value.  To the men, if she wants you hairless then you need to fulfill that desire.  To the women, if you want him hairless you don't need to accept who he is now, make him into a standard that is irrational.  To the women again, Man Candy Monday.  Oohhh, look at all that hairless tan skin, tight butt, big muscles, great head of hair.  There is Not one real thing about who that man is.  Does he have good values, work hard, is he smart, does he love kids, is he kind, funny, loud, quiet, introspective, caring and is he someone I could talk to.  No, none of those values are important on Man Candy Monday.  It is a sad state of affairs that has brought our culture to where it is now.  Bit by bit the fiber of our quality of being has been stripped away and is being replaced by smoke and mirrors.

I understand that there is a lot of money to be made by the companies that nip and tuck, by the companies that advertise for them, by the gyms, personal trainers, dietitians, supplement companies, specialty food industries, diet programs and so on.  I understand where their motivation lies.  They prey on our innate need to be accepted and liked.  It is unforgivable that the media is dragging us all down.  

Wouldn't we all be better off if we liked our selves for who we are?  Wouldn't someone be more apt to take care of their body if they were taught that it is a miracle vehicle to get your true being from A to B?  We need to celebrate who we are not what we appear to be.  I pray that I can get that message through to my beautiful, smart, talented, funny little people.  

As I move forward I will continue to celebrate my people, I will celebrate me and I will celebrate you because you are my friend and would be if I met you with (or with out) a blindfold on.