Yesterday over breakfast, while reading the paper, I said to teen daughter ‘you should be glad you’re not a 15 year old girl in Afganistan’, ‘why’ she replied, and I told her the hideous story of the young girl, tortured and made to work as a prostitute by her husbands family. ‘How awful, why?’ she said, and as I started to explain how women in some countries have no rights, she interrupted, ‘Should I wear my jacket belted or undone?’ I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, as in one way I was glad that was all she had to worry about, but wondered if I had somehow missed a bit in her feminist education. But it was the first day back at school and we all know the way you look on the first day really matters, and to be fair she is slowly but surely, becoming a feminist, even if she does want to be one of the Kardashians, which if I’m really honest, after watching their show last night, so do I – they are SO glamorous.
Perhaps this is the problem, glamorous, sexy, high maintenance celebrities, who don’t do any real work, have become the role models for a generation of young girls, for whom getting a boob job can be more of a career option then obtaining three A levels. Why even getting pregnant can turn you into a celebrity, as anyone who has ever watched possibly the most depressing reality show – ever – Teen Mom, will know!
Has being sexy replaced being intelligent? Hopefully not, but I know a whole lot of clever young women, who rather worryingly, look like wannabe porn stars/drag queens when dressing for a night out. Girls with degrees and promising careers, spray, fill and extend themselves to a “sexy'” version of their former beautiful selves, all in the name of glamour. Since when did fake become attractive?
As more and more girls take their obsession with being “perfect” a stage further and dabble in cosmetic surgery, surely there will be an impact on their health in the future. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence must realise that adding chemical gel to your gels on a regular basis, will eventually make them brittle, dying your skin may make it stained and patchy, adding hair extensions could make you bald, and inserting silicone, fillers etc, to any part of your body, is not natural and could have long term implications.
Cosmetic surgery used to be used to help people with congenital and developmental deformities achieve a better quality of life. Used in extreme cases, it was taken seriously, as anything that required a general anesthetic was a big deal. Now with celebrities such as as Katie Price regularly “popping” across to LA to have her lips or breasts done, these procedures are seen as an extensions of a regular beauty routine, or on the same level as a visit to a spa!
After our breakfast conversation, I flicked on the TV while drinking my tea, to watch a young girl who had the potentially faulty French breast implants, explain why she thought she should have them removed on the NHS. It seems between 40-50 000 women in the UK may have been affected by the faulty implants, which is a huge number and speaks volumes, about the way British women are embracing a dangerous and worrying trend.
Isn’t this just the beginning of a bigger problem, that ultimately we will all have to pay for, as the women who strive to achieve physical “perfection” end up looking not only worse than their more natural sisters, but physically and psychologically damaged too. This is an epidemic of enormous proportions and in years to come, our daughters generation will look back in horror, as they explain to their daughters why they too, should be feminists.
yes, yes yes it’s a worry. And I do subscribe to the belief that if you keep women occupied with these superfical problems they wont have the energy to focus on more important issues
Hopefully if we raise our daughters to question the ‘plastic fantastic’ notion, we help them avoid getting caught up in the nonsensical pursuit of pornification and eternal youth, and to thank god they have choices as a young woman in Britain.
I think I saw that same girl on TV claiming the NHS should remove her implants. The bloody entitlement of it!! That made my blood boil – she opted to have a ‘beauty’ treatment carried out on her body and now expects public money from a financially overstretched dept to put it right. I don’t wish her any ill at all, but the only people in that queue should be those who had implants as a result of corrective surgery due to illness, deformity or an accident.
But I think you’re right, we will all end up paying for it in the end. Just don’t start me on the number of under-5’s in this country who are already medically ‘obese’….we’ll be paying for that too in 20 years time.
The NHS can’t afford to remove implants from everyone, not even everyone who is worried. There isn’t much point debating whether it should. But entitlement will arise as soon as any implants cause a problem. The same entitlement to treatment as anyone else suffering from what could be seen as a “self-inflicted” health problem, through drink, drugs, diet or whatever.
Ariel Levy’s excellent book “Female Chauvinist Pigs” explored why so many young women (albeit in the US) have started to dress and act like glamour models / porn stars etc. Many of the women claimed that they felt empowered, sexier, in control etc. I am sure that many truly believe that but I find it hard to understand why young women feel that they are empowered when they are merely copying an image that was created by Heffner’s Playboy empire.
At 10 and 12 my girls are able to tell me what they find repulsive about these Barbie like creatures and why feminism is so important but I know that they will be in the minority amongst their peers.
Such an emotive subject and I feel it’s just the begining regarding “self inflicted” illness and entitlement! Must buy Ariel levy’s book. I don’t really get the empowerment argument either. How can be empowered when you are fulfilling a male fantasy. Personally I feel empowered when I’m wearing Dr Martins and I can stomp around in comfort!!
Thanks for the interesting comments. J x
It is reality tv that I think is partly responsible for this change in atitudes and in the way young women see themselves, this and the obsession with celebrities constantly trying to project flawless unrealistic false images of themselves. I was watching the other day The Crimson Petal and the White, a really wonderful Victorian tale of one woman’s enslavemet, degradation and redemption. Like someone said here, why would women try and look like Hefner’s playmates or even entertain the notion of using their looks to advance themselves when not too long ago it was exactly what women were trying to free themselves from, the limitations of their social status and looks.With so many opportunities ahead of them why would young women choose enslavement and objectification rather than liberty and freedom to become what they want.
Great, thoughtful piece, Jane! It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot too (mainly for work), and while I think the ways of influencing ladies’ appearances have grown, there’s also a growing acceptance of the idea of feminism among young women, which there really wasn’t when I was growing up! I think its becoming more intertwined in culture (especially online), as girls realise that a belief in feminism doesn’t preclude the fun parts of being a woman, and can relieve some of the social pressures they feel growing up…
Thanks Gwyneth, yes I often have to point out to my teen that being a feminist doesn’t mean missing out on ‘girly’ stuff. I’m glad to hear you think you think its a growing culture, as I often feel my generation (and the previous one) fought really hard for the current one to be free to be whoever they want to be. And some of them want to be play boy bunnies!! MTV have a lot to answer for!!