#bodies

FACEBOOK

Twitter

WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

…A Stupid Waste of Time

17 comments | November 9th, 2011

(By OOC and via TheGirlRevolution.com)

So you might have heard about The Self-Esteem Act we've proposed, requiring "Truth in Advertising" labeling be attached to any ad or editorial that meaningfully changes the human form through digital manipulation, like photoshopping.  It's our hope that the Act might help contribute to stemming the epidemic cirsis of confidence affecting girls and women.  Not everyone agrees with us.

We bumped into the story below (reposted here with the author's permission) at TheGirlRevolution.com.  We love their site, their vision and mission, and everything they're trying to do.  We also love that they disagree with us so openly and productively and allowed us to disagree with them, equally. 

A large part of what we're hoping to accomplish with and through The Self-Esteem Act is to help mainstream a conversation about the aforementioned epidemic  – because no matter what the right answers are, they'll happen faster and with greater scale if the problems come to be understood and recognized at a mainstream level. Dissent (productive dissent) helps do this. 

And, we don't pretent to suggest that the act is the final answer or cure to all that ails us.  It's not a silver bullet but, in our POV, it is another brick in the wall.  So, hoping another point of view helps further the conversation and lead us all more quickly to a solution…here's the TheGirlRevolution.com's POV on why the Act is a stupid waste of time.  Let us all know what you think.  XO

 

The Self-Esteem Act is a Stupid Waste of Time

This is not real beauty. The photographs you see in magazines, on television, on the Internet and on billboards have been Photoshopped and touched up.

The real people in them don’t look like this at all. All of their flaws have been removed to project an illusion of perfection. They are not perfect.

It’s fake. Don’t be fooled. In real life they have acne and cellulite and pudgy places and bad hair days and real problems just like everyone else.”

— excerpted from Ainsley, Wonder Years, By Tracee Sioux

This is real beauty. You have been blessed. What you see in the mirror is real. Other people will notice you. Beauty is an asset that will provide you with opportunities. Be grateful for it, but realize that it’s not your only asset.

You were also blessed with brains, intelligence, a sense of humor, creativity, a thirst for knowledge, kindness, love, compassion and many other unique gifts. These assets will provide you with more opportunities as you pursue your ambitions and passions. 

Confidence is sexy. Brilliance is sexy. Intelligence is sexy. A sense of humor is sexy. Knowing who you are is sexy. Being comfortable in your own skin is sexy. 

—excerpted from Ainsley, Wonder Years by Tracee Sioux

Evidently, I am the only girl advocate on the Internet who thinks the Self Esteem Act, which is supposedly going to make its way to Congress is a stupid waste of time. The Self Esteem Act is a “truth in advertising act,” a bill attempting to force advertisers to put a tiny little sentence admitting they use Photoshop on photographs in advertising — which is also somehow going to “save girls’ self esteem.” Google it. Everyone is simply head-over-heals crazy in love with this idea. It’s supposedly going to make such an impact on how girls feel about themselves and prevent eating disorders and solve all these body issues that the media causes with their evil ways of making women look too thin and too pretty (and girls are too stupid to be aware of Photoshop you know).

Personally, I think it’s going to cost a great deal of effort and have no impact at all. Let me explain why.

  • The government is not responsible for the self esteem of anyone. Period.
  • Media, marketing, advertisers and corporations are not responsible for the self esteem of anyone either. Period.
  • You and only you are responsible for your own personal self esteem. Your mother is not responsible. Your husband is not responsible. Your boyfriend is not responsible. Your best friend is not responsible. Body Image is the relationship you have with your body and your image in the mirror. Self esteem is the relationship you have with who you are. It is your responsibility alone. If it brings you pain, then you bring your own pain. If it brings you joy, then you bring your own joy. Deal with it, either way.
  • Maybe you’ve noticed, but no one in Congress can agree on a single thing. What in the world makes you think they are all going to huddle up and say, “Oh the girls. Yeah, we won’t force corporations to give women equal pay, but let’s force these same corporations to put a tiny disclaimer on their advertising copping to using Photoshop. Why didn’t we think of that Ladies?”
  • There are bigger fish to fry in this country right now. In other words, I personally, and a lot of unemployed Americans might agree with me here, believe there are a lot more important issues that Congress should focus on — unemployment and job creation, tax equality, a world economy on the brink of collapse, hundreds of thousands of mortgages that are underwater or in foreclosure, people drowning in debt. You know, things a tad more significant than whether you’re looking in the mirror and saying, “I hate my thighs,” no matter how many times I’ve advised you to stop doing that.
  • As Tina Fey says in her brilliant book, Bossy Pants, no one under 80 doesn’t know that advertising is Photoshopped. In fact, tweens and teenagers are better at using Photoshop than Photoshop artists employed by magazines. Why do people presume that kids are idiots who don’t understand computers? They come out of the womb Internet Savy. It is WE who find this shit shocking and have to wrap our brains around it, not them.

There are actually things that DO work that take a lot less effort than trying to get Congress to pass a lame bill that’s never going to make a dent in anyone’s self esteem.

  • MOM — Mothers have, and will always have the biggest influence on their daughters. Don’t believe me — try to get your mother’s voice out of your head. I’m 38 and have been unable to accomplish this. If you’re 60 or 80 you have been unable to accomplish this. So, make good use of it. Tell your daughter she’s beautiful. Tell her she’s got a great body.
  • If you’re a mother, make peace with your own body and get a self esteem. Nothing, but nothing is going to replace this. Not a bill. Not a law. Nothing. Grow a Self Esteem.
  • Make it against the rules to talk badly about your own body. My kid gets in trouble if she calls her brother a name. Likewise, she gets in trouble if she calls herself a name. We don’t call names here. Period. We don’t “feed” negative body talk with a bunch of B.S. sympathy either, “oh poor baby why do you feel badly about yourself?” If it’s something we can fix, we fix it. If it’s not, we tell her it’s perfect the way it is, and that it’s simply not okay to bash yourself. Period.
  • Tina Fey, again in Bossy Pants, recommends we embrace Photoshop because it’s here to stay and it’s better than plastic surgery and we should simply add a credit like a photo credit to the work. Photographed by, Tracee Sioux. Photoshopped by, Tracee Sioux. This is free and doesn’t involve Congress and serves exactly the same purpose as the Self Esteem Act.
  • Dove’s viral videos, Campaign for Real Beauty were genius. They were targeted to women. They should target some to girls. Publish them where tweens and teens hang out on the Internet.
  • If all the non-profit organizations that are gaga for this Self Esteem Act pooled their resources they could make Public Service Announcements informing girls about Photoshop and educate them about self esteem. Run them during iCarly and Gossip Girl, thus reaching their actual target audience. This would actually be effective  instead of wasting their time and energy on something futile.
  • Church youth groups, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, 4H, and other organizations need to address the issue of healthy body image and will do a better job of it than a tiny sentence on some ads that kids will never read.
  • School Boards should make sure healthy body image and media education is in the health class curriculum. Parents and girl advocate groups should make sure School Boards do this. Cause that’s how the system works.
  • Parents or grandparents can write their daughters a book or just tell them about beauty and sexiness and Photoshop and what it is and isn’t. Novel concept, I know.
The bottom line is — the media, advertising and marketing by major corporations only have as much power as we are willing to hand over to it. We have the power to filter a great deal of it out for ourselves and our kids. We also have the power to keep the Allmighty Dollar in our pocket — and that, my friends is the biggest weapon there is against the corporate marketing machine. A Self Esteem Bill isn’t going to replace that. {end orginal story}
 
Again, let us all know what you think – and what you think we can all do better or differently. 
 
(For more from TheGirlRevolution go here).

17 comments

  • Nora P.

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    The government isn’t responsible for the self esteem of anyone? Isn’t government responsible for our safety, well being and ensuring the pursuit of our happiness?

    Report this comment

  • MCS

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    You’re right when you say “the media, advertising and marketing by major corporations only have as much power as we are willing to hand over to it.” Doesn’t it seem many of the people have handed over a lot to it?

    I don’t know if I think Federal action is the way we fix this problem but it is a problem that needs fixing.

    Report this comment

  • Angry Mom

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    I love it when people tell me how to parent my children. Write a book to my child? Is someone honestly suggesting that this is the answer to being bombarded by images and messages?

    We do the best we can to raise our children right. Unfortunately their classmates and their classmates parents don’t always share our values. Neither does the 1-800-Get-Thin Billboard that we pass every day on the way to and from school.

    I could write more about how insulting it is when people blame parents as if we’re all the same and all want the same things for our children. I have to go write a book though. Sheesh.

    Report this comment

    • Angry Mom

      Posted on November 9, 2011

      P.S. Apparently Tina Fey is wrong, and there are 1 or 2 12 year-olds who don’t know everything is photoshopped.

      Report this comment

    • The Girl Revolution

      Posted on November 9, 2011

      I AM honestly suggesting it. I write books to my children about who they are and what I want for them when they are 5 and 10 and will speed them up in adolescence. Self-Publishing is a very powerful way to take back the power of the media. Use images of your own child. Use images of your own family. Use images of your friends and their friends. Put YOUR values in it, not mine. Not the media’s, not the schools’, not their classmates’. It’s an innovative idea, not a bad one.

      I’m not blaming parents. I’m asking you to claim your power and stop giving it to the media.

      Report this comment

      • Mama's Tantrum

        Posted on November 10, 2011

        I’m completely backing up Angry Mommy. There is a reason that the advertising industry is a multi-billion dollar industry; because it works. In the same way it’s effective at persuading consumers to purchase the latest iPhone, it’s effective at influencing other behaviors and attitudes. That’s what the entire industry is based-on; changing behaviors and attitudes. It’s extremely difficult to battle it an industry that permeates every facet of our society with what seems to be endless resources. Your statements suggest that parents have sole responsibility in the war against negative media images, as if we’re raising our children in a vacuum. It takes a village, as they say, which includes our government (fed., state, municipal) and a more aggressively responsible media industry. I like your suggestion of self-publishing and it’s a great idea, but in all fairness to hard-working families-like my friend who is a mother of three and working full-time, or my other friend who is a single mom of twin teenage girls-it’s not a reasonable expectation or readily accessible tool to utilize. You have to be in a privilege position, and by that I mean you have to have time, energy and/or money, to crank that stuff out. Most American families are not so lucky.

        Report this comment

  • In SF

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    I see merits to both sides of the argument. Congress has better things to be doing, though we know they’ll also spend plenty of time on things with less social importance. I am not convinced, however, that you can legislate commerce in this way,

    Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    I’ve wanted to say something since you all first put up your thing about this legislation. I agree with this new article, even though I think stupid is not a nice word your idea is a waste of time. Who’s gonna judge what’s been changed? Who’s gonna hold these corporations responsible for violating these proposed rules? What happens when they do?

    Like my daddy used to say, don’t go and call a plumber to fix your electrical problem.

    Report this comment

    • OOC

      Posted on November 9, 2011

      Your daddy’s right, Anonymous. In our opinion. Suppose where we’d diverge is that we think this is a problem needing both a plumber and an electrician! Thanks for jumping in, OOC

      Report this comment

  • KSE

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    The data around this issue is complicated and circuitous. Nothing influences a child’s sense of well being and self confidence like their parents, at least until they’re about 7 or 8, at which point their peers begin to play a much more active role.

    Most children (over 50%), however, have a mother who is self-critical and this can have truly dire effects on the child. The question then becomes, who taught the mother to be self-critical (to ignore not having the good sense not to be in front of her child)? Was it her mother, was it all from within? Did cultural imagery play a part? As I said, it goes in circles quickly.

    Is the self esteem legislation discussed perfect? I do not think it is. Is it a waste of time? In my opinion, no, it is not.

    Report this comment

  • TMT

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    3 words, and read my lips, NO GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION.

    Report this comment

  • GdelH

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    Please stop, stop, stop, stop blaming parents for everything that’s wrong with our children (nothing, thank God is wrong with mine). Sometimes it IS our fault. Not all the time. We are not sitting with our children in and after class. We are not there when they’re online. We do not go with them to the mall or the movies or monitor every text. We are also not all good parents.

    Parents have an enormous responsibility. Parents have enormous influence. Parents are the first line and bottom line, but we do not alone contribute to nor control the people our children become.

    I stand for whatever helps.

    Report this comment

    • OOC

      Posted on November 9, 2011

      GdelH…love, love, love this:

      “Parents have an enormous responsibility. Parents have enormous influence. Parents are the first line and bottom line, but we do not alone contribute to nor control the people our children become.

      I stand for whatever helps.”

      thank you.

      Report this comment

  • seth@OOC

    Posted on November 9, 2011

    While we suppose it goes without saying that we agree more with ourselves than we do with TGR (it does, right?)…we bumped into this quote from Douglas Adams that we think very consistent with their POV (and ourts too, for that matter) and thought we’d share:

    “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”

    Both TGR and OOC want everyone to embrace and “claim” their power. TGR’s focusing on parents, we’re focusing on the makers of popular culture – as parent’s helpers in this case. as we’ve said before, it’s not anyoine’s fault, it;s everyone’s. It’s not anyone’s responsibility, it’s everyone’s. That’s the view from our side, anyway.

    Thanks to all for participating in the conversation. Keep it coming. Xo

    Report this comment

  • Melissa

    Posted on November 12, 2011

    “If all the non-profit organizations that are gaga for this Self Esteem Act pooled their resources they could make Public Service Announcements informing girls about Photoshop and educate them about self esteem. Run them during iCarly and Gossip Girl, thus reaching their actual target audience. This would actually be effective instead of wasting their time and energy on something futile.”

    I think this is setting up a really terrible false dichotomy. I can support this measure while ALSO getting media literacy into schools, doing direct outreach with girls, providing organizations like Girl Scouts with media literacy and body image curriculums, etc. This act isn’t an immediate problem solver, it’s a piece of a much larger effort.

    Report this comment

  • seth@OOC

    Posted on November 12, 2011

    Us, we agree with you completely, Melissa. There are no panaceas, there are no perfect answers. There are steps and things we can do, in isolation and combination, and we can no longer afford to do nothing more than we’ve been doing. It’s not working, clearly.
    Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Report this comment

Have a Comment? Share It. All opinions but NO judgments allowed.

MORE STORIES