Not So Good to be a Good Girl

Not So Good to be a Good Girl

For decades, possibly even centuries, mass media and popular culture have focused on teaching girls to embrace a version of selfhood that is particularly damaging to their potential greatness. Our authority, our authenticity, has been staggered by the pressure to be “good”-selfless, modest, kind, gorgeous, and submissive. Growing up we have been told how to treat our bodies and when it is acceptable to show them – if at all.

As women, we live in the ultimate paradox of a lose-lose situation. Our bodies are constantly held to the standard of absolute excellence and the ways we choose to display our sexuality are often (always) abhorred.

The problem is, we do not emphasize the correct message for both the male and female population–at least not as much as we should.  It is almost always acceptable for boys and men to act in provocative ways, and that girls and women should be repressed and unstimulating. We constantly impress upon women that they should have no sexual freedom, yet, at the same time, men are generally admired if they have high levels of sexual activity. This ideology opens the door for a dangerous sense of entitlement, which in turn, can facilitate a culture that excuses harassment, rape, domestic violence, and other injustices that women face disproportionately more than men.

In the media, and unfortunately perpetuated throughout daily life, people constantly focus on the visible aspects that make women women, but when they themselves venture to be proud of their own anatomy, or attempt to be sexually liberated, it is painted as engaging in activities “unfit for a lady”, or they are slandered as whores and sluts. Women are only expected to be sexual if it is for the purpose of pleasing a man, or in the pursuit of bearing a man’s offspring. The ultimate consequence of such a primitive mindset, is the toxic message that “a woman’s body exists entirely for the consumption of men”… (or man rather, because if a woman has more than one sexual partner that is another reason for her to receive a scarlet letter). The next inference will be that a woman’s mind, a woman’s consciousness, exists solely to serve man.

That could not be further from the truth.

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It is more emphasized for girls to protect themselves from sexual harassment than it is to teach men to respect the women they come in contact with. Disseminating itself into rape culture, the resulting idea is that it is the victim’s fault that they were sexually assaulted. Subsequently, the message that arises is that they sanctioned their harassment by being too much of a tease and that the way they were dressed warranted the maltreatment they received. This speaks as if an outfit with slightly more coverage could convince a potential rapist that their payoff may no longer be worth the struggle. This, in turn, communicates to society (and young women, more importantly) that the way a woman dresses determines how she is to be treated.

Historically, much of the world’s society has been a patriarchal bureaucracy intended to enforce the assumption that men are to be incomparably successful and “their” women are to be submissive, sophisticated, domesticated mates. Mothers and daughters are to be seen, never heard, and to bear offspring whenever their husbands so please. Such an unspoken rule and regulation on one sex tells a single group that they are entitled to the other, and the other, that their inherent obligation is to please.

As contradictory to common sense this may seem, if you have a daughter, don’t raise her to be a “good girl”. Instead of constantly controlling and encouraging anxiety with countless warnings about the unavoidable dangers of the opposite sex, engage her in conversation. Listen to what she has to say, then reflect, and advise. The appreciation and voiced affirmation of a girl’s feelings at a young age can powerfully influence her emotional confidence and success as a woman. With the added pressure from mainstream media, it can be quite challenging for young women to focus on forming their own authentic identities. In my afflicted opinion, females are more perceptive to the emotions of others and empathetic to what they feel. Research has shown that girls develop emotional intelligence earlier than their male counterparts. Having said this, it is important to understand that this innate gift is stifled by the need to constantly hide what they truly feel. When our emotional expression is perpetually depicted as meaningless, we begin to regard other people’s sensitivity at the expense of our own. Coming from personal experience, when focusing on achieving someone else’s definition of perfection, girls begin to discount their own feelings. We do this with such commitment, that by the time we turn into young women, we have found it consummately rational to censor our own consciousness. Consequently, we begin to surround ourselves with individuals who do not value our feelings. We can’t blame them, though, because at the end of the day, we give others no reason to care, if we don’t even pretend that we do. This constant neglect of our own emotional disparity, can, in turn, affect our mental and physical health. Focus on encouraging young girls to discover aspects of themselves that they can translate into conducive and cathartic outlets.

Everyone has to find something to give their mind a break.

A lack of care for our emotional fitness translates into other facets of life–especially relationships. Above all, it keeps us from falling, and remaining, in love with ourselves.

I think we females have two points in our lives where we are consciously able conceptualize the meaning of loving ourselves: as candid, innocuous children, and when we have experienced enough in life to be able to filter through the bullshit and find our own beautiful truths.

I suppose we’ll all get to that point someday.

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The Risk of Corrupting Our Perceptivity

The Risk of Corrupting Our Perceptivity


The industry bombards women: “The reshaped bodies, the smoothed out wrinkles, all there is to alter is your mind, to alter your perception of what physical beauty is” (Not Just a Pretty Face, Malkan). Society feeds women with idealities of false perfection and forces concepts of unattainable attraction on the population as a whole. In the midst of the media’s selfish desires, standardization becomes the enemy of diversity and the media becomes the enemy of pulchritude.

Exposing the population to insular perspectives of beauty can have particularly destructive effects on adolescent females. According to the Park Nicollet Melrose Center, about 53% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies and that number surges to 78% by the age of 17. The National Eating Disorders Association confirmed that 70% of girls as young as 6-years-old want to be thinner. According to An Introduction to Applied Cognitive Psychology, availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on proximate examples that come to a person’s mind when appraising a specific topic. It operates on the fact that if something can be recollected then it must be important—or the only option. The average child matures over 18 to 20 years, and while they are developing, the concept of availability heuristic is a key element in the way they perceive information. Younger generations are growing up in societies that crave power over every aspect of human life—even something as personal as one’s perception of pulchritude. Because young girls are being exposed to a society that dehumanizes women, self-objectification is becoming a wide spread epidemic.

Somewhere along the lines, someone needs to argue the importance of autonomous philosophies. Somewhere between beauty pageants and university lecture halls, people should be expected to think for themselves and embark on paths to self-realization no matter the obstacle. The population is used to comparing themselves to airbrushed images in magazines that confirm their worst fears. People would rather contend to the idea that “Beauty ensnares hearts, captures minds, and stirs up emotional wildfires”, but when Aristotle said that, he did not realize that descriptions of flawless beauty have since catered to a limitless desire of the ideal human form. Anyone can argue that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but defined this way, beauty is meaningless and shallow at best. In The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf disregarded centuries of objectification when she claimed that beauty is dispassionate and universal entity does not exist. Intellectuals argue that beauty is inconsequential and because it cannot be learned from, it should be disregarded. So of course now people are expected to breathe a sigh of relief, because after all, the concept of beauty is a tasteless joke. They can’t though, because there is still something dissonantly incorrect with the picture; outside the realm of ideas, beauty still predominates. Appearance is still the most public part of the self: it exists as a sacrament, what the world assumes to be the mirror of one’s inner self. The consequences of beauty cannot simply be erased by denial, because beauty, no matter the latter, will continue to operate in the lawless world of human attraction. Academics can ban the idea of physical beauty from intelligent dissertation, and similarly, others can claim that it is slight and superficial, but either way, the beauty myth will continue to force us to accept reality. With the ongoing pursuit of an unflawed civilization, the media is forcing many females, adult and adolescent, into believing that beauty is simply what they say it is.

Nowadays, women are being targeted by calumnious societies who storm them with contravening theories of allure for them to ingest and pour into the generations that have not yet had a chance to define attraction for themselves. Nevertheless, the media continues to endorse their besmirched principles, leaving the society to buy into their grossly imperfect depiction. Forty years ago, when feminists threw their bras into the “Freedom Trash Can” outside the 1968 Miss America pageant, it was to protest the idea that women had become ‘enslaved by ludicrous beauty standards,’ and they were right; the quest for beauty may be a century old obsession, but in the present day, it’s not women who are ugly, it’s reality. Sociocultural standards of beauty have more of an influence than ever, and not just in how people see themselves, but if they see themselves at all.

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Baker, Kevin, Corriene Reed, David Heathcote, Moira Maguire, and Richard Kemp. An Introduction of Applied Cognitive Psychology. Psychology, 2005. Print.
Gallivan, Heather R. “Teens, Social Media And Body Image.” Macmh.org. Park Nicollet Melrose Center. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Malkan, Stacy. Not Just a Pretty Face. 1st ed. New Society, 2007. 192. Print.
Sedar, Kasey L. “Female Body Image and the Mass Media: Perspectives on How Women Internalize the Ideal Beauty Standard.” WestminsterCollege.edu. n.p. n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women. Harper Perennial; Reprint Edition, 2002. 368. Print.