• 02:11:19 am on October 20, 2006 | 0

    There is no causal direction when we try to link low self-esteem with problem behaviour in youth (girls between the ages of 9-12). The idea of young girls being taught by birth that life is a pageant having to constantly be on a “stage”, being watched and judged by others is staggering. Unfortunately by just telling someone to have more self-esteem will not improve their sense of self-worth, because “the person would only feel better if they experience success in areas that they care about”.

    I need to keep that in mind at all times when I’m thinking about this project. I need to ensure that I’m not making art that is simply just telling someone to have more self-esteem or the old thing of “be proud of who you are”. I think we could go one of two ways at this point. We could go the positive and empowering way by not using images of women and replacing them with images of recognizable objects, which would serve as a gentle reminder that perfection is fabricated.

    How to portray that the entire media business is fabricated, that it’s nonexistent. It’s a fantasy that is created by people and business. I need to be able to show that somehow.

    I’m very against using the woman in a vulnerable position at this point (differing from my initial departure point) from a fear and concern of her being seen in a negative point of view on top of all the aftermath. It would be redundant to show women in these positions as it would not serve to communicate the message that the “media is plastic” effectively. Having said that telling someone that they should feel more empowered and have more of something won’t do it- showing how something isn’t real would help it.

    I need to find a way to show that someone isn’t real- How things work behind the scenes. How technology could create a different identity for one person. The glamour, fame and beauty that is portrayed by the media– all those perfect pretty things that shine, look and smell good. My images need to be in high gloss- they need to have that magazine quality to them. They need to be compelling enough to show the reality of everything – to shock and to tell the truth. Perhaps that’s the only way a person could truly be capable of seeing the truth that lies behind all these issues.

    When I stumbled on websites that portrayed images of women who didn’t belong to the “ideal” body type I started to really hate myself because it was so difficult to just change my point of view about my vision of beauty. It still sickens me and I feel mortified at the fact that I thought they were living in denial, and that the woman being 500 pounds couldn’t possibly be calling herself happy and healthy. It just didn’t make sense to me. I immediately closed the browser window because I couldn’t accept the disgusting thoughts going through my mind.

    Now that I come to think of it- maybe I don’t have a problem with what people consider to be beautiful, because deviants exist, and norms exists (omg deviance and normality again) – they exist because without them it would be impossible for humans to co-exist. Without agreements on norms we would end up with conflicts and strain. Strain on our society because we won’t be able to predict outcomes and formulate patterns… Right?

    In this sense yes, but today it has reached its cap – the tension is rising from these norms (which are supposed to maintain society) and deteriorating our way of life particularly in women. These norms (standards of beauty) are now lowering self-esteem and causing added strain on women. Why should women feel embarrassed to try on a bikini? Alone? Even when women are alone they feel embarrassed- and that’s a fact. Why should women be embarrassed of their bodies? Would that then explain the reasons why professional women athletes are no longer allowed to change topless in locker rooms? What could an artist do to stop the bleeding? How would life be like if we continue with these? Perhaps everything would just crash and norms would be revisited?

    There should be norms and a definition of beauty, of what we find beautiful, because generalizations do exist. The problem lies now because those standards are too high that even a little setback would cause adverse treatment from others, for example if person “A” got a bad haircut she would first of all know that she got a bad haircut, and then seek reinforcement from others that her haircut is indeed bad and that she needs to get it fixed. She then reads a magazine that will “tell her” what a beautiful haircut should look like, and since they all look perfect and flawless it becomes reality?

    Calogero M, Rachel. A Test of Objectification Theory: The Effect of the Male Gaze on Apperance Concerns in College Women. London: William Clowes Ltd, 1972.

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