We began today’s class by dissecting the phrase “like a girl” and the term’s negative connotations. As many already know, the term is commonly used as an insult to convey physical shortcomings (even though most of the girls I know can and will knock out anyone who has the audacity to use that term around them…). From there, the topic of discussion gradually switched to “Gender Boxes”, which is more-or-less representative of society’s preconceived notions of how someone should act, how they should look, and who they should be simply based on their gender. Failure to comply with this ideology often results in being rejected from more “traditional” company and unfortunately; a lot of these concepts are contradictive of one another (i.e. the ideal women is skinny AND curvy). This creates a nearly impossible set of standards for anyone to meet, which in turn leads to ever increasing levels of body dysmorphia within adolescents.
The media constantly bombards young girls (and boys) with images designed to reinforce their otherwise non-existent desires to meet arbitrary beauty standards. This form of media (think shows like ANTM, where a woman’s worth is based purely on her physical features) tends to portray women as objects and oftentimes it gets to a point where they begin to see themselves as objects too. As levels of objectification increases, political value and self-empowerment decreases until symbolic annihilation comes into effect (a term coined by George Gerbner that can be defined as “the absence of a particular group in the media”, which in turn may lead to entire populations simply being forgotten). It seems like the only way to correct this backwards mindset would be to completely “reboot” our culture by teaching the younger generations that it’s okay to be yourself.
"You have to change everything about yourself, without leaving any signs of alteration"
-Julia Horwitz (My roommate and classmate)