Monday, February 25, 2008
Quote o' the Day and Such: Unattainable Beauty Standards Edition
Confession that's not really a confession if you know me: I love America's Next Top Model. Sometimes it's really painful and I am forced to turn the channel or leave the room or hide under a blanket while Tyra humiliates herself and/or these poor fame-(and probably food-)hungry girls. But so last season I found out about the magic that is the ANTM Fantasy League! I've picked my first week's team on the basis of possible challenge-winning (Katarzyna and Fatima) and on possible crying and/or verbal confrontation points (Fatima and Marvita). And if that doesn't give you enough of a fix, you should definitely be reading Rich's epic recaps every Monday. But anyway, it's always interesting to observe the clusterfuck of trashiness and prettiness and addictiveness that is ANTM. It represents everything that is wrong with America in so many ways, and yet, I cannot stop watching. Perhaps this is why I want to do American studies for grad school. I just can't look away, I'm fascinated by not only the interpersonal squabbles and the makeovers and the "What the hell will come out of Tyra's mouth next?" parts, but also the conflicting values on display. One example I think of right away is how Tyra complains about how the fashion industry requires models to be unnaturally thin in order to have any sort of successful career, but holds her models to those same unhealthy standards. "Yeah, it really sucks how you have to be super skinny to be a model, and we should change that, but you should probably lose some weight if you want to be a model, but do it the healthy way, okay?" But so today I was reading a post about, essentially, "womb envy" from Amanda Marcotte on Pandagon, where she went on to say, "The drooling fascination a lot of our culture has with female beauty is understandable insofar as women’s beauty truly is neat, but let’s face it—much of the fascination is hostile. Instead of being pleased with beauty, our culture objectifies, demeans, hurts and humiliates because there’s so much resentment about it." I think of how we manage to admire the models (whom most of us will never even come close to looking like) while still taking sick pleasure in their exploitation. Luckily, I'm able to not think about all that too much while the magic is happening and can still enjoy the show, but I think what Amanda's referring to here is really clearly played out on the screen every week.