Sunday, June 23, 2019

Will It Ever Change, Or Will It Continue To Get Worse?

Do you ever read someone's posts, follow them on social media, or look at their page knowing full well it's bound to cause you distress? I think most of us do from time to time. In one particular case, a lady I used to follow who disappointed me early on is still, two years later, unknowingly supporting diet culture while continually trying to put herself in a position of authority, and I still occasionally look at her posts knowing full well they're bound to upset me.

In one of the most ridiculous scenes I have seen yet, this individual decided it would be a good idea to rip on a clothing company for posting an image of a pair of legs in athletic wear in their advertisement. OK, I can see how this kind of advertising might cause some concern. It's a form of objectifying, yes.

Actually, this company's focus is on fashion and sportswear. According to their website, they are trying to fuse fashion and comfort clothing, so to expect them to cater entirely to one group or another isn't all that realistic. This company is also one of the few that promotes models of different sizes, shapes, and ethnicities, but nobody responding to the original post seemed interested in or even aware of any of this.

In the past, I've brought up the Killing us Softly series, and I agree that we are often blind to the objectification of people, especially women, in advertising. I also understand how difficult it must be for clothing companies to advertise their products in a way that's appealing to everyone, and while it's true that cutting women into body parts to sell a product further objectifies them, I'm not sure a company can please everyone. I'm also not sure how effective advertising images of pants hanging in mid air would be.

While it's fine to bring attention to these kinds of issues in advertising, what's absolutely not OK is to make assumptions about the person attached to the legs or other body parts featured. You absolutely don't know shit about her, him, or even if it's a computerized image, so making snide comments about her or his potential to do X, Y, or Z only shows your own insecurities. Acting as if you have any idea about what this model can or can't do is not only objectifying her further, it's degrading her. It's mean. It's uncalled for, and it's reinforcing the toxic environment around beauty and diet in which we live.

Additionally, shifting the focus from thin to strong isn't stepping away from our cultural obsession with women's bodies. This is what happens when we are so lost in being products of our society that we can't even see when we contribute to negative objectification and toxic beauty culture. Shifting judgment isn't the same as eliminating it, and mocking people for wanting to look nice while working out is no giant step forward. Just because you now see a different beauty standard and think strong is better, not everyone can or even wants to look the way you think they "should".

I'm not saying that I think showing a pair of fit legs that might support an unrealistic or unattainable beauty standard is the right way to advertise, but ripping on those who take a job modeling for these companies is just as bad. I think most of us agree that we would like to see fewer ads that objectify people. Ideally, nobody would be objectified, but criticizing those who already are or might be isn't the answer.

In the case I'm referring to, people joined in the conversation and further mocked models for wearing what they were wearing, looking a certain way, and supposedly choosing to workout in a gym over being outside. Again, a model's job is to help sell the products they are promoting. If, in their own time, they want to dance, do yoga, go to the gym, or run 100 miles in the hills of California wearing what the fuck ever, it's nobody's fucking business. How in the hell is bashing these people supporting a culture in which we don't objectify others? Jesus.

I am fully behind people wanting to raise awareness when it comes to the potential harm that comes with objectifying women. I just don't see making far-fetched assumptions about models as the answer. I really thought we had come further than this. It's sad that with all the information out there, this is how people choose to supposedly address the issue. Bullying, even when it comes to strangers online, will never be my idea of promoting body positivity. God, it's just so disappointing what people do on social media.

4 comments:

  1. I found the relevant thread and am far dumber for having scanned the comments. One of them wrote:

    "It is demeaning enough to judge women solely on appearance, but then to flay them into body parts - but face, breasts, legs, eyes, hair, our, lips, etc is is totally dehumanizing."

    Those are HUMAN FEATURES. How the inclusion of those is DE-HUMANIZING is obviously beyond my feeble powers of comprehension.

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    Replies
    1. Right. It's dehumanizing to show body parts, but it's totally OK to mock whoever those parts belong to.

      It's gross behavior, and it's weird to see people get excited about ripping on an imagined person after just complaining about how this poor person was objectified.

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    2. I would avoid that entire timeline. It is to mental-health and body-positivity themes what Insane Clown Posse concert-goers are to live music enthusiasts. Just a massive outpouring of blind, aggrieved noises and blame.

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    3. True. It's interesting to see how a post about not comparing bodies and wasting time on doing so devolved into a post about comparing body parts, athletic achievements, and looks. If nothing else, it gives me fodder for my blog.

      This is exactly what I want to warn people about. That kind of environment is extremely toxic and unhealthy, and sometimes people who are struggling will fall into the trap of believing those who put themselves in a position of leadership. I want others to know that even people who call themselves professionals can be full of shit, and it's OK to question what someone promotes.

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