1. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    On beauty, racism and the effect media has on self esteem

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by jazzabel, Mar 5, 2014.



    Incredibly moving speech, worth a look.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
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  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can't eat beauty, but surely this is food for thought that can truly nourish.

    One of the hardest things to master is to be comfortable in one's own skin. It is also important to learn to do so. Until then, can you really look at another human being in unalloyed, judgement-free appreciation?
     
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  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I could not agree more. It's just sad that the society, including media, are making it so much harder for some people to learn to love themselves, than others.

    If you are a young, blonde, white, slim, pretty cheerleader, what you see in the mirror is an image that suits the expectations society has of you as a young woman, If you are seeing someone looking like Chaz Bono, or Whoopi Goldberg, or anything that differs significantly from the prescribed norm, it gets a lot tougher.

    I also find that some people have low self esteem due to lack of support in their primary family. These kids need a lot of approval, encouragement and some good role models, but only too often end up embracing the superficiality of the external image, and the whole ambivalence where no matter how good you look, you are supposed to look better (whiter, darker, slimmer, curvier etc).

    I'm not saying looks are unimportant, but judging someone's looks shouldn't be a weapon. And it certainly feels that way sometimes.
     
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  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You know what really pisses me off? The way society views black Barbie dolls. I remember reading a study where children repeatedly picked the white Barbie over the black one when asked questions like "Which doll do you like best?" or "Which doll is prettier?" I also remember when Walmart decided to sell the black Barbie for half the price of the white one. Stuff like this can really mess with a child's sense of self-worth.
     
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  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's funny you mention black dolls, just the other day I read about a research done on some really young girls, I think they were six or so. They were given a huge pile of dolls to play with, both black and white, and quite a few black girls chose a white doll, while all the white girls choose white dolls. When they asked them questions, the main reason why they didn't chose the black ones was because they thought they weren't pretty. I forget now all the details and can't be bothered searching for it, but the article mentioned Angelina Jolie's white daughter carrying around a black doll, as an example of a white child growing up with positive messages about black people.

    Btw, do you remember "Somebody, please, think of the children!" outcry when they made a tattoo Barbie :D
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Disney's attempts to market various dolls and toys with non-Disney Princess stereotypes doesn't market well. So you see Merida, the hero from Brave, suddenly dressed in a princess dress and you don't see a lot of Princess Fiona toys from Shrek. They claim they tried and it's the public that doesn't buy. Yet we see that did get flack:

    Parents' anger as Disney turns Brave girl into curvy princess

     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I saw that video elsewhere on the net and all I can think is that it's a scathing indictment of our culture to know that a woman as stunningly beautiful, as exquisitely articulate, as clearly brilliant as Lupita Nyong'o should, for one moment of her life, have felt or been made to feel un-pretty.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    My thoughts exactly @Wreybies
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    On the other hand, most teenagers, regardless of ethnicity or morphology, struggle with body image issues. It's all part of the process of self-definition. It's true that our ethnic and body shape biases figure in as well, but it's not really on the media's shoulders. To a large extent, they are only the messengers.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Cogito : I agree but... :D I still think this pushing of uniform-looking humans down our throats in the media needs to stop in order for things to start changing for the better. That and the fashion industry really needs to get their act together. They are even worse.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's only so much you can bend human nature. We still have a lot of herd animal in us.
     
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  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Cogito : Lately, I've been thinking about how we got ourselves in this predicament, and I concluded that humanity is a weird mix of herd and predator mentality. This obviously doesn't work very well for the herd.
     
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  13. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Indeed. Our psychological tendencies for who we find attractive are still very much dictated by millions of years of evolution and business or companies have no obligation to change these tendencies, but rather exploit them to make money. That's how it is.
     
  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Do you mean by 'our psychological tendencies' white Westerners?

    Like, was the beauty standard for women in ancient China or Japan the same Caucasian wide-eyed big-boobed blonde it is nowadays?
     
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  15. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well said @KaTrian . I think people easily forget how changeable the notion of beauty is, not only across the cultures, but across time within the same culture as well. Blonde, pale, slim women were definitely not the 'universal notion of beauty' in the West even fifty or a hundred years ago, and yet, some people assume there's a genetic reason why we find such women attractive today. There were times when very large women were considered most beautiful, redheads, dark or light complexion, strong, weak, dark, light, muscly and even hirsute women were viewed as fertile and exceptionally good in bed in the old days, the list goes on and on.

    There is no universal beauty but the times perhaps determine certain qualities that up the chances of survival in the given circumstances (strong and heavier women in the times of famine, thin ones in the times of plenty, not only improves survival but signals that the woman is financially better off than the average). However, more often than not, what's portrayed by the elite as desirable, either through art, media or even their appearance, determines the current ideal of beauty, and this is I think why media and fashion industries have such a huge influence on women's self esteem.
     
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  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I want to be very clear on this because I do not wish to close this thread and I do not wish to punish or admonish those who are blameless. This forum is a multicultural, multiethnic, multi-linguistic, multiracial venue. Our membership spans the globe and includes every kind of anyone that one can imagine. Posts that state explicitly or that imply that any person or persons is/are evolutionarily or genetically inferior by dint of race, ethnicity, cultural background, religion, language, sex or gender is in direct violation of the first of the forum rules.
     
  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pretty sure I remember studies showing people do instinctively find certain types of eyes most attractive. Has to do with trust.

    Two things people don't naturally find attractive are hipster glasses and skinny jeans. That's the fault of the media.
     
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  18. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Is the golden ratio considered most(very) aesthetically pleasing universally or is it a Western concept?
     
  19. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I saw a BBC doc several years back that claimed it was evident in all races, the world over.
     
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  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There is a school of thought that says infants (applies to baby animals as well) are naturally attractive because evolution would have selected features that endear you to the infant who needs you to care for it. Yes, hormones and other innate maternal and paternal behaviors are involved in bonding, but it never hurts to pile on with baby cuteness when natural selection is involved.

    Before you balk that ugly babies might have been more likely to be abandoned, remember the cute baby selection pressures would have occurred long before we fully evolved into the human species, and occurred very slowly over thousands of years. Human evolutionary change takes that long because we are slow reproducers.

    From the cute baby theory some have hypothesized that certain features are also attractive in adults: large eyes for the face, high round cheeks, smooth unblemished skin. I don't think it's a stretch that we find youthful females more attractive than aging ones. One can identify the specific features we are looking at when we distinguish the difference between young and old.

    What is considered the ideal female body size and skin color, on the other hand, are much more influenced by culture than facial features. Botticelli painted rounder ladies that were the ideal of the day. Sir Mix-a-Lot represents a cultural preference when he says, "I like big butts and I can not lie." A century or so ago, tanned skin was a sign of the lower working class so light untanned skin was a status symbol that translated into beauty.

    It's worthwhile to pay attention to cultural influences on girls that affect their self esteem or their health. That means letting writers, movie producers, product promoters and manufacturers know when they are promoting damaging images.
     
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  21. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you @Wreybies, I have some people on ignore so I didn't even realise this was the direction discussion was taking.
     
  22. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Social programming plays an important role. While humans aren't unique in having cultural learning, we certainly have exploited it more than any other species, due to our excess mental capacity. Much of what is thought of as "instinct" is not so at all; at birth, the two instincts are to suckle a protuberance and to cry at displeasure. Beyond that, while there may be evolutionary influences, they are malleable, I think.

    When I was a boy, I once asked my father (raised in East Texas in the 40s) why he was racist -- he'd refused to give my sister away in her marriage to a black man. He answered me simply: "One day we [his father and he] were walking down the street downtown [in Pittsburg, Texas] when a black man approached us. I stepped aside to let him pass, and when he was gone my daddy asked me, 'Johnny Lloyd, why'd you step aside for that n****r'?"

    The lesson I drew from his answer, and from my further education about the role of evolution and culture in psychology, is that the point-man in the war against racism is the parent. Thankfully for me, my mother took on that role. Had she too been a standard-issue East Texan, I've no doubt y'all would be castigating me for my ignorance.
     
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  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wonder how much the media actually affects male opinions on female beauty. You can shove all the light complexioned, skinny females you want our way, but you'll be hard pressed to find a guy who wouldn't love a shot with Beyonce. There's a post above that uses the valid point of our ingrained natural instincts to make a misguided point about preference over skin color. I think the facts show, on the contrary, that some things (like skin color) are very superficial, while other things (TnA, for instance) bypass the preconditioned part of the mind.
     
  24. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    That is a very good speech. People need to hear more things like it. I don't think it really could have been said better.

    As for the media influence on young people, I think there is a huge amount of correlation between what is promoted and what is seen as beautiful. We recently had a similar discussion in my household regarding my 5 yr old sister's hair. She loves the movie Tangled, and she would frequently comment about having/wanting "long golden hair" like Rapunzel. At first it was cute, but when "Rapunzel" was replaced with names of girls from day care, we grew concerned.

    We were actually very relieved to have The Princess and the Frog come out just before it because we often watched both movies and bought Princess Tiana dolls to balance her exposure. What didn't help was her Irish grandmother (her dad is mixed) making comments like, "Oh I don't like when your mom does your hair in puffs," and asking our mom to braid or straighten it so Lexi can fit in with her white cousins and classmates.

    I have no problem with any "race" or people of any skin color, so this is not me slamming on anyone. But that really upset me because Lexi, having a really dark-skinned mom and a mixed dad, looks mixed, but she tends toward the darker side. Her hair is also very-much "black," so it will nap and fro naturally. It can also be very difficult doing her hair. M sister can spend hours trying to do it right depending on how many braids she puts in. And there is no way we're straightening the girl's hair so young.

    I admit that when I was young I used to be concerned about my skin color. Really and truly, black people where I lived were poorly represented and I was embarrassed by them and by the way the white community seemed to talk to me. It wasn't just because I was young, but there seemed to be a distinct difference in tone when they talked to white kids. It made me feel like an outsider. All of my heroes were white (Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Hercules, even anime characters like the DBZ cast), all of the "most beautiful" people were white... I ultimately wished every now and again that I could see what it was like on the other side. I came to terms with it long ago, as I changed schools and the staff emphasized that character was more important than anything.

    By the time I was a teenager, I was more concerned about whether or not I'd ever be taller than 5' 8"... so far I'm not. :( I think this is where social pressures have their highest impact. Teenagers want two things: (1) to fit in (2) to stand out. I know it's a paradox, but it's true. We want little more than to be recognized as our own individuals with completely unique identities, while at the same time being accepted into some larger body. To do so we focus on trying to get "the look," and it doesn't help when the look you're going for fits almost everyone but you. I'll never be "tall, dark, and handsome" because I'm not tall. My question now is, "why should I have to be?"

    We really need to start asking ourselves why we do what we do. Why do we value certain looks and traits? And we must pass on the message to love ourselves as we are for who we are. Always strive to be your best, but don't judge what's best by everything we see around us.

    Sorry about the length again. :oops:
     
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  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is the way I see it too. There's no pre-historic instinct that makes us choose white -- or skinny. Like you said, especially in Europe, there was a time people liked pale because that meant you were wealthy and didn't work outdoors, they liked plump because that also indicated wealth and I suppose there was a time wide hips = a better child-bearer. The doll tests have shown more about our culture than of our instincts. The Western culture is saturated with the white ideal, the supposedly most accepted brand of beauty, so is it any wonder everyone would like to be that Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty with blond, sleek hair, a way tall, slim yet sufficiently busty frame, and blue eyes. I've wanted it too, yet have never had it.
    I think, well, hope, we're getting past the blonde princess mirage, though, here in the West.

    Nowadays we like tanned because that implies an active, healthy lifestyle. We have plenty of women changing their skinny bodies to match the curvy ideals of this group, and we have women struggling to lose weight to match the skinny ideals of that group.

    I discussed beauty ideals a while ago with a few colored women (I was taking this uni course and did a project on beauty ideals), and the skinny ones found it just as difficult to get that big booty that their community adored as white women may feel pressured to have the body of a teenage boy.
    Especially a woman is never the way she should be. Either she's too skinny or too fat, too dark or too pale, too busty or too flat. Of course men are pressured to look a certain way too; look tanned so they think you are an outdoors person and like to climb fucking mountains. Wear a suit on a hot summer day and sweat like a racehorse so they think you have money. And what is that gorgeous woman you picked up from the bar going to think when you drop your pants? Too small, LOLZ. What is that car gonna say about me? Got a sports car? Small dick. Got a truck? Small dick. Got an SUV? A small dick and boring. And a lot of these fears exists between our ears, or they're fed by magazines and reality TV to make us believe we're acceptable only if we change ourselves to fit a certain mold.

    Yet so much comes down to taste, and every shape, shade, and size has their admirers. Not everything appeals to everyone, doesn't have to. And in the real world, surprisingly few people hold the super-slim Barbie doll or the sleek Ken doll up on a pedestal.

    I'm inclined to agree with this as well.

    Speaking of entertainment, I was re-watching Scrubs recently. Granted, most of the cast were white, but there were plenty of colored characters of color too, most if not all of them portrayed as attractive (while whites were often portrayed as nerdy, clumsy, and uncool). Some of the jokes regarding race were pretty bold too. I'm not saying it's The Boondocks, which is awesome too, it's still a predominantly white show, but the beauty ideals were not so clear-cut.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014

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