I’m usually not one to take offense of ignorant comments – but that’s only to an extent.
This year, as I’m tackling on life after college, finally moving out of my parents’ house and balancing my social life with work; I have finally ventured into the world of dating. Yes, dare I say, “dating.” Now, let me just give you all a little background of my dating history. I’ve only ever had one serious relationship that didn’t end very well, hence keeping my guard up with any man who sparks my interest. I’m 26 and have been single for 3 years – I’m sure you all can imagine that I’ve grown accustom to relying on my self for every little thing life presents.
Anyway, back to the root and point of this blog post. Aside from my wonderful friends who forced me into trying dating apps, my coworkers decided to take part in the fun and “swiped left or right” for me during down time at work. While it’s all fun and games for some people, for me, putting yourself out there is tough; so I’m sure you can imagine my dislike with how some of my coworkers perceived my “picky-ness.” One comment mentioned, as I insisted I was not interested in one of the guys that caught their eye, was, “I don’t understand why you’re so picky, it’s not like you’re Vanna White.”
Yes, she was correct in stating that I am not Vanna White (she is beautiful). For one thing, I’m Filipino with brown skin, 5’5″ and “average” in body type. What irritated me most about this comment is the fact that she convinced herself to adhere into believing what society branded as the “normal” image of beauty. I mean, no offense to anyone who holds those attributes, but that image entails a woman to be caucasian with a body like those of Victoria Secret models and who has enough disposable income to splurge on designer clothing. As I sat in my cubicle attempting to decipher what she had just said, other thoughts ran through my mind – thoughts that reminded me of how much gender roles play in society; how much women are still objectified, specially in media.
In college, I was a Communication major and had my fair share of critically analyzing medias which focused primarily on gender roles. While many would disagree, in this day and age, men are still frequently portrayed as the gender with “power,” while women remain in their positions as their subordinates. How do we, as a society, change these traditional views of gender roles? We mostly look upon those who possess a strong presence in the media – singers, actresses, political figures, etc. Now, I am in no means a feminist, however, I feel many women in the spotlight, many women in “power,” do contradict themselves. While they distribute messages encouraging women to be both beautiful and powerful, their actions cause me to interpret their messages in an entirely different light.
For example: Beyonce.
I’m guilty in having love for the Queen B. Whenever I hear Single Ladies, I can’t help but to break out into a move. One of my favorite songs has got to be her single: Run the World. If you’ve never heard of this hit, to put it in a nutshell, it’s a song about women declining the traditional gestures of men – independent women. Sounds great, right? Well, if you remember the music video, you’ll see a strong and confident Beyonce (and backup dancers) dressed in leotards and dancing provocatively. Now, I’m all for a woman dressing and dancing as she pleases, but my concern with women in the media all draw me back to the question of why “sexy” and “beautiful” are often composed together to construct a sense of “power.” Do young women need to show more skin to display their confidence? Do they need to dance in a provocative manner in order to exhibit what sells in society: sex appeal?
I cannot believe a small statement from a coworker brought all these questions in mind. Now, please do not bash my opinions as I’ve only used one celebrity as a sole example in this blog post (PS – I still love Beyonce!). There are many strong women who ARE leading by example, however, there’s just not enough of their presence exposed in mainstream media. With that said, people are also encouraged by seeing “normal” invididuals as role models. One of my favorites is Whitney Thore – an average girl who is plus size but does not let her size refrain her from doing something she loves: dancing. She posted a video on YouTube that went viral and since then, she’s been sharing her story and encouraging body positivity. I certainly adore her as she’s shed some light on some of my own body insecurities – but hey, that’s a story for another day.
My final thoughts on my own questions and opinions? I love that media is attempting to acknowledge women as strong, confident and powerful. I hate how some powerful women often use the word “sexy” as a definition of beauty – but it’s sad to say I’m guilty of it as well. What’s even worse is how “normal” women – young women such as my coworker – still perceive beauty in the way mainstream media has branded it.
Anyway, that’s all for now – feel free to share your thoughts.