I used to joke that when I looked at the public Twitter stream or the popular Instagram feed I would lose faith in humanity just a little. The Internet gives average people exposure to the masses in a whole new way.
Confession time — I’m not interested in pop culture. I don’t read People or gossip sites. I am what you may have suspected, a cranky old lady. OK, not really, but I am cranky about the difficulty many of us face as parents, trying to raise children in a world of lowest common denominator marketing and content strategies.
Want to know what makes me cranky? You do? Good. Women marketing themselves and other women as oversexualized archetypes.
Lets talk about women’s magazines, shall we? I had subscriptions to all of them as a teen. I idolized the models and read every article.
I wondered how in the world I was going to do it all.
Doing it all looked exhausting:
- manage a full time career,
- have a happy (Equally shared domestic responsibilities!) marriage
- make sure we both had orgasms in a movie scene like setting
- look constantly sexy in gravity defying lingerie
- raise my 2.5 kids
- make time for daily workouts
- prepare organic meals
The glossy pictures were amazing, the articles were full of seemingly expert advice on everything a modern woman would need to know. I was hooked on them. Hooked on the lifestyle image. Then I grew up and woke up. My perspective changed as I gained a few years.
Women’s magazines are, by far, more a vehicle of promoting products marketed at women than actually providing quality content.
Luckily, quality content found a home on the Internet. Posts about about what life is really like as a mom, a wife, a businesswomen have a home online. These blogs and articles that tell the stories of our lives are a refuge in a storm of garbage.
God help us all if our articles have to start with “LOSE 30 POUNDS BY JANUARY” to get anyone’s attention.
Now that I am raising sons, I have a special contempt for the magazines that grace the checkout isle at the grocery store at eye level.
The boys stop and look and ask questions like,
“What is a naughty organism trick?” (Not knowing what the words meant, the question was asked loudly, from a few feet away.)
“Wow, people cheat a lot on each other.”
“Um, Mom, why do ladies always worry what they look like?”
“Hey, they say how to lose 30 pounds. More people should read that.”
Parents of daughters have a much harder battle protecting impressionable girls from these messages I’m sure. For me, as the mother of five boys, boys who will be future husbands, I fight those messages. I want my sons to view women in a healthy, realistic way.
What are the messages given to young males when they are innocently walking through the grocery check out isle? Think about that next time you walk through the isle.
My hope is that I will be able to protect the boys from internalizing the concept of the over-sexualized, airbrushed woman they see on magazines, commercials and on TV.
I don’t believe the hype that women are oppressed by men in this day and age. We are in control of our own destiny in the Western world and need to realize that.
Is there more to life than celebrity break ups, lipstick and looking hotter in lingerie for most women?
Then we should ask ourselves why that archetype is acceptable in modern society.
Why is it acceptable?
I asked my friend Alison from Nummies for her thoughts on this and she said,“I think the danger in those magazines and all that objectification and sexualization of women and men is that it teaches us that this is what we should be looking for in others and wishing for in ourselves. I was upset during the olympics to see friends posting pictures of athletes in bathing suits etc. and making comments about how they look, more than their achievements. They are great athletes first and should be respected for that. I don’t want my kids to think we admire our athletes because they look a certain way. Secondly, they are all about half my age at this point, and so I just don’t find that attractive, its kinda gross to me. As women we want to feel loved and beautiful, but its really hard to raise boys into men who will do that when they are surrounded by media that focuses on shape, rather than substance. I hope my boys will think brilliance is attractive, and humor, and talent, and find partners who look for the same things in them. Being comfortable in your own skin, confidence, having a great mind, making each other laugh – that is what is really attractive.“
What can you do?
What small choices can you make that would help this image change?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
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