A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soft Soap


That’s the name of the commercial. Take a look at it.
I don’t argue with the message that being a girl in today’s society is tough.
I am sure it is although I have no personal experience to know.
But being a kid is tough. Always has been. Always will.
And I am sorry to say that I think being a boy is just as tough, if not tougher than being a girl. The expectations on what it takes to be a MAN in our society bombard boys just as much and in even more sinister ways than the ones directed at girls. Watch any recruitment ad for any armed service for more insight.
The ad in question depicts the young girl being bombarded with images that are supposed to warp her young mind about the concepts of beauty. But let’s face it, no matter what century you live in there has always been some sort of pressure to conform to the norms of society as far as appearance goes.

Walk through any museum and see standards of beauty and dress that we find less attractive in this age but back when Rueben painted those zaftig models they were what everyone thought they should look like.

The Oriental custom of binding feet to make them tiny seems barbaric to us as does the African custom of elongating the neck by use of metal bands. But they thought it was beautiful.

My thinking is that you aren’t going to change society and its pressure to make people look and dress a certain way unless you legislate it. See Red China for how that looks.

But why the concentration on young girls? Whether you’re plumbing goesinto or goesouta you have intense pressure from the time you enter kindergarten on through the rest of your life to conform, to be like others. As a young boy I was forced to wear corrective shoes to correct a foot problem I was born with. They were ugly, big, wingtip monstrosities and I hated them not only because I was uncomfortable in them but the other kids made fun of me.
Later in the boys locker room my man breasts were the source of much ridicule. I was not the biggest or strongest kid so I got my share of beatings and other physical abuse. I was reminded constantly by my classmates what a worthless boy I was. Picked last for every team and then pummeled mercilessly by my teammates. All because I was fat and uncoordinated.

Two points here.

I can assure you that what happened to me happens to loads of little boys today.

And it didn’t change me a bit, except to make me stronger. I am still fat and uncoordinated but it bothers me only from a standpoint of health, not self-esteem.

So if little girls can’t take the image the world pushes on them who really is to blame?

And in the final analysis isn’t Dove soaps (a product of Unilever who also markets AXE with ads that glorify the image in the onslaught ad) goal really to sell more of their soap?

It’s ok with me to do an ad campaign to try and raise public awareness about how the media manipulates standards of beauty and behavior. Just don’t be sexist about it.

1 comment:

Jim Rising said...

i love this article.