“…. And the idea is, these men are so important and so powerful, and these women conversely are so dime a dozen… that they don’t matter, they’re just eye candy, they’re worthless.”
Actor, poet and playwright
For right now, we’re going to talk about IMAGES; just what can be SEEN. We’ll tackle other stuff later. Now, to start it off, we need to do a bit of an experiment. I’ll never ask you to do anything that I wouldn’t do or haven’t already done myself, and this is the case this time. I did this, and was shocked by what I learned.
That said, I have a challenge from me to you. It’s actually divided into two parts, but we’ll do the other part in a day or two when I post part two of this post. part two . Thisa is what I want you to do. One day, sit and watch some music videos on T.V. Tune in to one of those music television stations. (For me, it was BET). I want you to mute the volume and I want you to try to keep count of how many degrading images of women you see in the course of one hour. It’s easy to figure out what you might consider to be demeaning. Anytime you see a woman in a video, ask yourself, “Would I want to see my little girl doing that?” If the answer is “No.” then chalk it up. (Keep this list.)
Now, here’s a bit of back story, in an earlier post (https://daddysdoinghair.com/2013/01/17/chapter-1-what-is-this-book-and-how-to-use-it/) , I referenced a conversation that I had with a young sister regarding her goals in life. If you recall, I said that it seemed like her sole mission in life was to become a video vixen. She wanted to be just like the women that she saw in the rap videos because she equated the attention that they seemed to get with the attention that she longed for. Now, I need you to lean in REALLY close for this one because I need you to really hear what I’m saying. Ready? Here it is: That attitude is screwed up!
First, let’s look at the most obvious effect. I bet that if I could dip into a young girl’s mind regarding this subject, this is how I bet thought process would go:
1) Hey, I see the girls in the videos….
2) Wow, they must be REALLY popular…
3) They get ALL the attention…
4) I want to be like that….
5) But I don’t look like that….
6) Maybe if I dress like that, the guys would like me, and I’d get attention too.
We could go further, but I think we’ll marinate right here for now. If you look at it, what’s happening here is that these little girls are beginning to view their sense of self worth solely by how men view them. They begin to think of themselves in terms of what their bodies have to offer and so, they begin to objectify themselves. Did you catch that? If they see this enough, after a while, the videos won’t have to tell them that they are just objects any more, they will tell that to THEMSELVES. This, fellow fathers, is plain old, basic, run of the mill, everyday low self esteem. ANYTIME someone allows their self worth to be determined by how others see them, it’s because they don’t value themselves enough. It’s just that simple. This is a huge problem in itself, but it also leads into another problem.
To put it bluntly, most music videos and magazines now promote a slightly “Idealized” idea of beauty. I really hope that, during your experiment, you proved me wrong, but I bet that you noticed that the majority of the women had long flowing hair, light complexions, flawless skin, impossibly perfect teeth and were perfectly proportioned. Now, I know that when I did the experiment, none of the women in my family fit that description of beauty, so should I consider them as not beautiful?
Models are also often rail thin, showing our daughters an image of beauty that is, for the most part, unreachable without plastic surgery. In their minds, though, these are the people that they want to look like. They don’t necessarily understand that these models and actresses work for companies with big budgets and teams of graphic designers that are pros at Photoshop. It gives our daughters a false sense of reality, and to make matters worse, it’s a reality that they don’t fit into.
Now imagine that you’re a eight or nine year old girl being shown constantly that light complexioned, long haired, tall and slender, flawless skinned, perfect toothed (is that a word?) girls are the height of beauty when what stares back at you from the mirror is a dark skinned little girl with short curly hair, thick lips, freckles, pimples, gapped teeth and wide hips. (Or maybe you were like me with ears that didn’t quite line up properly…) You can forget being a supermodel. How long before you start to think you’re super ugly? How would you compensate? How do you make yourself more like the “pretty” women that you see? What would you do to be one of them? ( I learned to tilt my head JUST RIGHT when talking to people….no…really…I did.)
Talk about feeling like an outsider.
Next, we’ll talk about media, and then motivation….And maybe, just maybe, with your input, we can stumble across a solution that works.
March 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm
You have beautiful daughters! We really need to show out daughters more positive images of beauty as well as a diverse appeal. We are very slowly going there. but the image of BW in the media is not that positive…Especially when we think in relation to BM.
I saw your blog on LinkedIN and came to check it out! good luck with your journey.
March 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm
Thank you so much for the visit and for the kind words.
March 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm
I don’t think this problem is reserved for the black community, though I do understand your point. I am 63 and although I was never pretty, grew up with parents who appreciated that I was “creative” and “different” and so never tried to be pretty. But the kids I see and talk to have to really fight to get past all the media portrayals of impossible women. There are some good role models for young women out there, even in music. Smart, take charge women. But also we need girls to know that being smart is okay. That is still the tough one, from what I can see.
Oh – I found your blog through The Blog Zone – gotta say this blog rocks! I love what you are doing and encourage you to keep on…
March 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, for all the kind words. (make sure you tell all your friends…LOL) It just so happens that I noticed it first in the Black community. As I looked into it more though, I did see that it was a problem that crosses all racial and economic lines. You’re absolutely right about the role models, too…the problem is just wading thru all the MUCK to get to the diamonds. Again…thank you so much for your comments. They are very encouraging.
March 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm
When I was a young girl I wanted to look like Farrah Fawcett. The fact that I was black and had a short black afro didn’t stop me. I put a towel on my head and flipped my cotton locks. I optimistically hope that things will get better and we can actually start showing real women in media, but sadly it seems we have to keep learning the same lessons over and over again. This blog is wonderful. I’ll be sharing it with my daughter who is smart and capable, but still has to make her way through all of the media landmines out there.
March 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm
Thank you for the kind words! Your deciding to share my thoughts with your daughter is the greatest honor I can imagine. It helps to validate what I’m trying to accomplish and I am sincerely humbled. I’ll try to always write stuff that’s worthy of such honor.
Your new friend,