Wednesday, September 2, 2009

If Looks Could Kill...Wait a Minute...Maybe They Do!

From my knowledge on the introduction readings I would say that girls studies is the study of girl’s development. Girls studies addresses the issues that young female adolescents face. When girls enter into adolescents their world starts to change, friendships change and so do their hormones. According to the online reading “at the edge of adolescence, girls begin to edit their feelings and desires out of their closest relationships, fearing that honesty will breed conflict, and that conflict will lead to isolation and abandonment(16)”. This has created fear in girls to speak the truth; this culture has made it difficult for girls to identify. The biggest issues I would say that girls face all come the desire to fit in, they suffer from depression, eating disorders, self-injury, and attempts at suicide. Mary Pipher sums adolescence up perfectly in my opinion stating it as “a treacherous terrain for girls (17)”. I work with young girls on a weekly basis and at times I am astonished at what comes out of their mouth and the issues they deal with. These girls are under constant stress to fit into these standards they see on television and in magazines. More than anything I have seen these young girls obsess over their weight, some as young as 5 years old. Sadly, girls getting these ideas they are too fat in their head by their moms, who won’t allow their daughters to eat certain foods or only a small amount.

The media and popular representation has a huge influence on girls, and I can’t say this is all together bad as pointed out by Driver “ girls are challenged to use popular images and stories to make sense of their lives and communicate their differences(1).” The good that has come out is groups of girls banding together to break this mold of the beauty ideal. The first chapter in queer girls focuses on the challenges that both queer girls and non-queer girls face through popular representation. Driver explains that “media commodification centers on conventional images of beauty white, rich, youthful, slender feminine girls, who become the defining sexualized appeal of mass marketed visibility and seduction. She goes on to say that “those who don’t fit into such prefabricated models, including sexy fat femmes, poor dykes, queers of color, androgynous girl-boys, and butch trans youth, are either exotic or erased altogether from view(9).” The chapter is filled with stories of girls who are struggling to fit into this model and even to simply feel normal, if there is such a thing.

It is evident the effect our media-driven culture is having on girls queer and non-queer. They are not allowed to express who they are; this is why I believe girls studies is vital. Girls are under an exuberant amount of pressure and they need strong, real role models and not these prefabricated models. These models need to represent girls of color, different religions, different classes, and different gender preferences. Girls are losing their identity in popular culture. When posed the question who am I, or who should I be they seem to find their answer in the glossy pages of a magazine. I found this video on YouTube that Dove made in their campaign for real beauty. It portrays an accurate picture of the pressure girls are under everyday. The last sentence in the video “talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does” is eye opening! Check it out and share your thoughts!

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei6JvK0W60I

2 comments:

Jen said...

"The media and popular representation has a huge influence on girls, and I can’t say this is all together bad as pointed out by Driver 'girls are challenged to use popular images and stories to make sense of their lives and communicate their differences(1).'"

I agree. The media at the very least is a conversation starter. Though the images portrayed are far from the reality of day-to-day images that seems to me to be both the plus and the down side of media. As I said in my post fighting and trying to change giant media conglomerates is more difficult than accessing the girls of today and starting a conversation that looks at media images and text critically instead of passively. After all, isn't increased attention to girls' education a fundamental element of girls' studies? Education doesn't stop once they exit the school doors.

Jo-Anne said...

It's funny that you should put up the link from Dove as I was just talking about it with a LMHC yesterday and she told me to look it up. We discussed how the media puts out the idea that what you are is not good enough, and that is exactly what I heard and saw on this video. You need to do this or have this to make you more or less of this. The message is that you are not ok just being who you are, and that is so sad to me. It is hard enough when you go through the stage of feeling awkward and then to have all these messages re-enforcing it is just mind boggling!