Thursday, February 22, 2007

One Dead; One Bald

There has been an absolute confluence of news, photos, blurbs, blogs, comments, radio shows, and personal conversations surrounding two famous women in our society: Anna Nicole Smith and Britany Spears.

One is dead, and one is bald.

They are both being flattened by consumers because they are blond (well, Brittany was), busty, sexy, and have satisfied the hunger of men and women around the globe, as they have objectified themselves – giving their all to show more of their physical assets, and less of their intellect.

Both have dealt with, or are dealing with clear issues, yet the media appears to be focusing on other variables.

For instance, Smith’s claim to fame has been her numerous Playboy covers, her sultry look, her life as it mirrors that of Marilyn Monroe, the marriage to the much-older-than-her oil tycoon, and more recently, the death of her son, and the birth of her daughter.

If this were an aunt, sister or mother of any old Jane Doe in this country, red flags would be thrown up all over the place, and they should. Would the focus be on the woman’s – now dead – hotness? Should it be?

If an aunt, sister or mother of any Jane Doe in this country checked into a rehabilitation center twice, and left each time within 24 hours; went through a divorce; recently had a child but is partying harder than before becoming a mother; or drastically changing their image, red flags would also be thrown up all over the place.

What stories like this should do is bring in a plethora of articles that focus less on the individual, and more on the founding problems that got folks like Smith or Spears to this point.

From the day each of them was born they were probably put into little pink outfits, and thrown a Barbie doll.

“Play nice,” someone told them.
“Look nice,” someone else added.
“Don’t forget your doll baby.”
“Look, you can learn to cook on this Easy Bake Oven.”
“No pushing, yelling or feeling angry; you must sit and act like a lady.”

As the years go by, those one-liners turn into headlines on the cover of the woman’s bible: Cosmopolitan:

“How to do one’s hair”
“Secrets to staying young”
“How to please your man in bed, while still looking perfect”
“Thin is in”
“Blond is in”
“Don’t learn to cook; you shouldn’t even be eating”

With the foundation set, is it any wonder that women such as Spears or Smith would find it difficult to lead a life where face-value is everything? We live in a world where they have both been mocked for gaining weight, losing weight, for having hair or not (which a complete no-no because our society says that all women must have the long, flowing locks for their men – and if they don’t, they must be crazy, butch, or a bitch).

With the pressure to look great, is it any wonder that these two have sought help (if Smith’s death is ruled a suicide, and Spears multiple attempts to check into a rehab)?

The point is that there are hundreds of thousands of women out there who are being conditioned in similar ways. In order to avoid future problems the media could step up to the plate and write stories that focus on:

1. Why is it that the patriarchy still rules women’s bodies, minds?
2. How does “being pretty” tie in to sexual, drug, emotional abuse?
3. Eating disorders: why women should not have them.
4. Top ten reasons we don’t all have be white, blond, thin Barbie dolls.
5. The pressures of being a mother.
6. The pressures of being a wife.
7. Rehab: What stigmas are attached, and why don’t we stay?
8. Suicide rates among women – are you the next statistic?
9. Parents: don’t pigeonhole your kids into gender roles.
10. Women are smart, and don’t have to be objectified to be noticed.

Ok. Maybe this is too much to ask for – clearly, the world is not ready for the truths. Nope. Folks would rather flip on the tube and watch exploitive story, after story, after story about celebrities. It’s interesting because those in the limelight are constantly told of their leadership and mentor roles. However, we never reverse this role and use their issues as true insight into what it is really like to be a woman.

Don't want to take my word? Check outSexualization Of Girls Is Linked To Common Mental Health Problems In Girls And Women, a news article highlighting findings published by the American Psychological Association.