The Materialistic Society

Reposted from facebook;

This > Elliot Rodger and the Price of Toxic Masculinity > is good read. This, coupled with a post a friend shared yesterday about a gender-swapped Cosmo (http://goo.gl/XR9GEZ), is a huge contributing factor to what I perceive to be ‘wrong with society’.

Let’s look at an actual Cosmo cover…

“Sex moves men crave, the love trick that makes him want you more, look sexy!, sex position increases female orgasm, lean thighs without lunges”. Sex, sex, body image and sex, sex, body image.

We sell these magazines to teenagers. There are girl’s magazines that exist for kids and young adults and while the versions for younger readers may not talk about sex, they do talk about body image and boys and makeup and celebrities.

Gah, celebrities. Our society is encouraged by media to place value on famous people and then to judge them based on how they look, how skinny or fat they are, how ugly they are without makeup, how shit their new haircut was, where they eat, WHAT they eat, what they wear when they’re walking from their front door to the post box – materialistic EVERYTHING. We’re encouraged to deride people for not stacking up to society’s standards for ‘beauty’ when those standards are impossible to achieve to begin with (http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshopping-altering-images-and-our-minds/).

And we eat it up. Every time we share a picture from People of Walmart we’re making fun of someone who doesn’t meet our own standards of ‘normal’. We’re saying, ‘what this person wears is ridiculous’ and judging them on it. We post a picture of someone suffering from obesity and laugh about how they shouldn’t wear whatever they’re wearing out in public. Our first response is to ridicule instead of empathise. We click on headlines like ‘look how terrible This Celebrity looks out of makeup’ because seeing THOSE people looking less beautiful than they usually do makes us feel better about not looking that impossibly beautiful ourselves – and in doing so we affirm the notion that looking like that is ‘terrible’. It’s not ‘Celebrity still looks beautiful without makeup’ or ‘celebrity doesn’t look quite as stunning without makeup but that’s okay because beauty is more than how pristine your face is’, it’s ‘terrible’, ‘horrible’, ‘shocking’.
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And our kids keep buying and reading these magazines and our adult women keep buying and reading these magazines and men keep seeing these magazines where women are exposed to sex and makeup and fashion and being skinny (and themselves have magazines targeting them that fire off headlines about gaining muscle and owning a great car and how to be successful and it’s just as pervasively damaging) and there’s still a market for it.

Isn’t it absolutely DISGUSTING that there’s a huge, healthy, incredibly lucrative market for pushing ideals of beauty and fashion and wealth? Isn’t it absolutely, completely nauseating that there’s a market in actively encouraging society to put stock in when a stranger looks glamorous (good) and unglamorous (bad)? That we’re being conditioned to care about what clothes someone we’ve never met wears? That we’re being conditioned that it REALLY MATTERS whether our shoes are store own brand or Prada and that respect comes from LOOKING GOOD and BEING SUCCESSFUL (rich)?

I know I’m sickened by it. I’m sickened every time I go into a shop that sells those magazines or go onto a website that advertises those articles or see a new TV show that pushes those agendas because it means that some huge corporation somewhere would rather keep making bucketloads of cash than to take responsibility for pushing healthy, reasonable, wholesome ideals.

And where does it end up? Murder or suicide, a few days (or weeks if we’re lucky) of outrage, and then nothing, until the next horrific murder or suicide.

  • Alice

    Amen, amen, amen!

  • midhras

    It’s not just the killings and suicides (awful those words may sound) but what gets me most is how very many many faceless millions are suffering from poor self-esteem and view their own body and mind as something less than singularly fantastic, but often as something to loathe or be disgusted by. I don’t know how we can keep on teaching kids sciences, arts and humanities, but so very much fail at bringing them up as mentally capable, empathic, gentle humans. I think it’s too hard to educate teachers to be able to design coursework for this. In fact: there should be some open-source coursework online. A series of videos, essays, poems, stories, interviews, documentaries, whatever, which anyone could peruse and become a better person by. Ugh, that sounds so scruffily didactic!

    • It’s nuts, isn’t it? We teach atomic-level science but can’t progress beyond pushing these base faux ideals of beauty in favour of growing the spirit and soul. It’s so saddening that there’s even a market for this junk – if there *wasn’t*, it couldn’t exist. It’s sad, pitiful and disappointing that things like Big Brother, Cosmopolitan, Jersey Shore, Extreme Makeover all exist and not just exist, but thrive.

  • anon

    This link is broken / privacy restricted: http://goo.gl/XR9GEZ (but it seems like it’s redundant to the picture anyway)

    • Yeah, it’s a friends’ facebook share but it was pretty much just sharing the ‘male cosmo’ pic. 🙂