I watch quite a bit of Baby TV these days, defying the hysterical warnings about its dangers: “Your child’s brain function decreases every minute that s/he watches TV!” Oh please. I call bull shit on such nonsense. I am not going to leave the TV on indefinitely, but my son will not be harmed by exposure to 10-15 minutes of Baby TV every day. Continue reading
In her book Becoming Women: The Embodied Self in Image Culture (2014), Carla Rice reconfirms the commonsense notion that North American popular culture—filled with images of thin white women—damages women’s self-esteem by sending narrow messages about what women should look like. Because the mass media’s standard of beauty excludes 99% of ladies, it encourages them to develop such issues as body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Rice predictably lobbies for more diverse pictures of women. About a decade ago she served as a consultant to Dove, helping that company develop its “Real Beauty” advertising campaign. It was begun in 2004 after surveys revealed that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful. Rice urged Dove to appeal to women’s desire for acceptance rather than judgement, admitting that the final (highly controversial) advertisements continued to feature attractive women with flawless skin.
Yet Dove was late to the party. For decades artists and scholars have intervened in dominant image culture, offering alternative images of fat, sick, differently abled, and lesbian bodies, among others. Artist Jo Spence is well known for scrawling “Monster” across her chest, taking photographs of her cancer treatments in an effort to reclaim and de-medicalize her suffering body. Such transgressive images are much more effective than those produced by Dove, though they have less popular circulation.
While I agree that the current beauty standard is ridiculously limiting, and support the display of diverse female bodies, I think that image culture receives too much attention and has in fact become a scapegoat for women’s body problems. Continue reading
I first learned of the classic children’s bedtime story Goodnight Moon from a New York Times series on writing, by writers, for writers, called ‘Draft’. Aimee Bender wrote an essay entitled, ‘What Writers Can Learn From Goodnight Moon’. Having appropriated her title, I’ll try to put into practice one or two of her recommended lessons. Continue reading
Flicking through FM radio this morning, while driving to the gym, I hear two DJ’s talking about a Twitter survey they had just conducted. “If you had to take a long car ride with someone, who would you LEAST want it to be?” The first nine answers they received were, “My mother.” One tweeter elaborated: because she “always talks at me, instead of watching the road.”
Fitbabe’s post about eating disorders has prompted me to think about patterns of food consumption, something of particular interest to me because these days I am food. Continue reading