“Selfie”

Is there more depth to this superficial craze, than meets the eye?

As this fad has grown and grown over recent years, my opinion on the matter has been torn.  Are selfies superficial, empowering, or both?  Honestly, I can’t say that I have a valid answer, as it’s a rather subjective phenomenon.  It’s become so wide spread, that the term has been officially added to the dictionary.  Because I haven’t read the technical definition yet, I’m going to look it up and toss it on in here.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, a selfie is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”  Interesting.  Alright – moving forward.

I chose today to explore this subject, as Dove has released a new campaign titled, you guessed it – “Selfie.”  This short explores the idea of beauty and how it is conveyed in the eyes of mother/daughter duos.  The young women are relatively high school aged and their mothers vary.  Take a look:

After viewing this latest short, I continue to be torn.  I have been a fan of Dove’s previous campaigns and do still appreciate this one.  However, I feel that there are things missing.  Understandably, this is a short and not a media research analysis.  With that in mind, I looked to the people.  I listened for their words, for their stories, for their reasons.

For example, around minute mark 6:40, one mother states: “I think that my daughters have taught me that social media is widening the definition of what beauty is.”

Ok.  So.  Here is my paradox.  If social media is widening the definition of what beauty is, who is right?  Would this be a good thing, or a bad thing?  One common thread in the short is the idea of women basing their appearance off of celebrities in movies, TV, mags, etc.  So, why is that so different from social media?  Thread sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and others regurgitate the idolizing of celebs and airbrushed models.  As it were, the young women in this short admit that they frame themselves just so, when taking a shot.  If they are perpetuating these standards in their own pictures, doesn’t that just beat around the bush?

Understandably, the point of this campaign was to throw water on the situation and wake everyone up.  Did it work?  Will it continue to work?  The message is there and the purpose is positive, but I’m not convinced.  This particular community shared a wonderful event and I wish them well in continuing this renewed mindset.  As for the rest of us, what’s next?

There are many other points that I wish to touch on in this post, but I want to think a little bit more.  I’ve been reminded of other mediated messages from the past and may just have a little series up my sleeve.  Stay tuned, if you so wish.

In the meantime, what do you think?

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The Walking Dead Feminists

First things first:  I’ve only recently started watching “The Walking Dead,” so these are simply my observations through mid-season 2.  Oh ya, SPOILER ALERT to anyone who has yet to watch this show.

Alright, so this show is sweeping the nation and taking top ratings.  Sure it’s very suspenseful, and yes I watched the whole first season in one sitting with a friend one rainy afternoon.  HOWEVER, though the show is entertaining, my feminist-self came screaming out at me.  As the episodes progressed, little things kept popping into my mind and the drive home was one big internal rant.

Here is the abridged back-story of our manly hero, Rick Grimes: He was a small town sheriff, father of one, and husband with minor marital issues.  While on duty alongside his buddy Shane, he gets shot and spends X amount of time in a coma.  Upon his revival in a hospital, he is alone and confused.  After he stumbles his way outside, the world is messed up and there are zombies.  He eventually finds civilization, or what’s left of it in his immediate area.  Yada yada yada, things happen, zombies die, people die, and the show continues onward.

At this point, I figure this post will be one in a mini-series, so I’ll just focus on a few issues today.

Issue 1: Why is the first zombie that Rick encounters a woman without any legs or any shirt?!

Once Rick gains his strength and runs out of the hospital to figure out what’s going on, he crosses through a park.  During his little journey, he stumbles across legless, shirtless, lassie, who is the zombie from most of the promos and stuff.

This poor thing has been dragging her guts around for who knows how long.  Though this is tragic in its own way, why couldn’t he stumble upon a man, fully clothed, or a woman with all of her pieces?  I just don’t understand why she is totally naked, dragging herself along the ground, all alone?!  Oh wait, probably because the rest of this show is based on a very patriarchal and rather misogynistic structure.  How silly of me.  More to come on Legless Lassie, I’m sure.

Issue 2: *Spoiler* The Wife is the Slut and is Wrong

Going back to our hero and his marital problems, he was having issues with his wife before the coma and zombie take-over.  Of course, once he is lost and in a coma, Lori (the wife), begins a relationship with Shane, the best bud.  Eventually, Rick finds Lori (yay) and suddenly, poor Shane is SOL.  Naturally, the writers and director handle this situation, by making Lori out to be the bad guy and the slut.  As the story line progresses, we see more backstory and see into the current relationship and the puzzle pieces that are at work.  Regardless of this story, all of the blame seems to be put on the wife and the way she is portrayed is obnoxious.  She just appears to be a weak and needy, flighty woman, that can’t handle much, but just needs sex.

Issue 3: There is a Humongous Lack of Feminine Strength 

No matter what the situation, the location, the people involved, or the stakes, the men are always the first to spring into violent action, while the poor damsels stand there and scream.  Ok, so Andrea is somewhat of a fighter and go-getter, but she is always cast down and hardly ever fights for her right.  Every time she stands up for herself and the other women around her, she gets harassed and then the hegemonic men spring back to action.  The men are cool, calm, and collected, while the women cry, scream, and run.  The men all appear as level-headed, while the women are emotional and overly dramatic.

These are just a few of the issues that I have with this show, at this point.  It is a good show, if you just need some mindless entertainment.  However, there are so many problems, that I have barely even scraped the surface.  The three issues that I’ve focused on are still very basic and have a lot more depth behind them.  Once I have the chance to revisit some episodes and learn names better, I shall return with the second installment.

Just for kicks:

Health Equation

A few posts back, I had a brief little poll that inquired upon people’s thoughts on the meaning of health.  After receiving a handful of answers, all but one agreed that health was an all encompassing term that deals with both internal and external factors.  These physical, mental, and emotional factors all work together to create one cohesive state of health, though every individual has a differing equation.

In order to better understand what all creates our image of health, so many variables have to be examined. My own equation is very extensive, but I’ll do my best to examine as much of it as I can in time.  For now, I’ll just focus on five main points:

1. Physical State of Being

As I grow older, I’m really starting to notice slight differences in how my body reacts to and handles various things: I can no longer go nights without sleep and live to tell the tale; Coffee has become a staple, and not just a favored drink; Stress physically effects me; Working out feels awesome; Late night snacking turning into a cruel joke when I put pants on later, etc…

Although I may be average in size and stature, with some muscle, I am totally out of shape and I can’t stand it.  My days of having a super metabolism and twig-like figure are totally over.  Aside from all of that, I’m really starting to feel how crucial proper nutrition truly is.

2. Mental State

Like mentioned above, stress is starting to affect me for the first time.  I’ve always been busy and a great multi-tasker…but college is new ballgame.  Although I can still manage everything very well, I sincerely have to find ways to maintain the stress and not let myself get overwhelmed, even in my fourth year.  (My drumset being 2 hrs away doesn’t help much).

Though I may be struggling with stress here and there, I try to remain calm and keep my normal down-to-Earth vibe about me.  So many factors work their way into the equation of my mental state.  For now, I’ll just cap it there.

3. Gender

Where do I even begin?! This could and probably will be a post of its own here soon enough.  For the time being, I’ll just keep this one brief.

Gender seems to be everything in this day and age, politically, personally, and in other ways.  This election season (for example) seems to be a constant battle of health and gender, focusing on how and why these two terms go hand in hand.  One moment, we progress forward.  The next, we make a screeching halt and go flying back to the 40’s.  Womanhood is constantly on the line, and somehow religion, economics, and two-party systems find their way into the mix.  Why does the stuff between my legs determine my rights as a human in every aspect, especially something as sensitive as health care?!

4. Media

With all of the technology readily available today, messages are smashed in our face every single moment of the day.  The number of mediated messages that register in your brain each day would probably astound you if you sat down and thought about it.

The media has a huge hand in what is deemed as healthy, proper, right, wrong, and so much more.  This could be anything from skinny mini models in magazines, to the font used in advertisements.  Therefore, one is swayed in different directions without even realizing what’s going on.

5. Family

In the most basic of ways, family and upbringing has a lot to do with what I deem as health.  I was raised with a very health conscious, fit, happy go lucky family.  Because of this, I listen to Enya while I relax and write papers, I love hiking for fun, brain power is wealth, being personally fit is important (that doesn’t mean I have to be a stick), happiness is a virtue, food is vital, awareness is key, and so much more.

Health can mean any number of things to someone and I’m sure those closest to me have a different set of variables in their own equation, than I.  There is no right answer for what health is and isn’t.   

Olympic-Sized Surprise

As I’m sure you all know, it’s Olympiad time across the globe!  Of course, I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics over the years, during both the winter and summer time.  No matter what the season, the Olympiad always makes a wonderful statement for unity and friendly competition.  In the past, various historical moments have happened between athletes and nations alike.  I am particularly proud of the all around outcome of this years’ games.

Gold medals are often the main goal of competition, but I have become overly excited in other arenas of the games this year.  First and foremost, it is the first time in Olympiad history for every participating nation to be represented by both male and FEMALE athletes.  Whether or not some may consider this a big deal, it certainly is.

Along with the female athletes, came an outstanding performance by a woman I am a huge fan of: Dame Evelyn Glennie.  During the opening ceremony, one could catch Glennie playing various drums that powered over the entire city.  She has been a major role model for me ever since I caught her on a rerun of Sesame Street, way back in the day.  Being a percussionist myself, I rely on a woman such as her to bring a positive feminine face to the world of drumming, which tends to be male dominated.  (Note to self: Make a future post about that issue.)  Not only is she an outstanding musician, she is the world’s first solo percussionist, and on top of all of that, she is deaf.  Because of this, the rhythms she ignites, which pour from her soul, are vastly without comparison. Here are a few pics from her historical performance:  http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Dame+Evelyn+Glennie/2012+Olympic+Games+Opening+Ceremony/dCp6UTiHPzL

Changing gears slightly, I’ll touch on another major success noted around the Olympics.  While I was eagerly watching the games one night with N, I was quickly drawn in to a commercial.  Thanks to my health comm prof and mentor, I can no longer watch TV like a normal person…I always have to point out the subtleties of everything I see; I try my best not to though.  Anyhoo, I was very impressed with a commercial by Chevy.  I may not be the biggest fan of most American cars, hence my adoration for my 13 yr. old Camry, but I am now a fan of Chevy.  In this outstanding ad for a Silverado, entitled “Like Father, Like Son,” a little boy is seen playing at home while he waits for his dad to return from wherever.  The little boy is playing around with a mini-sized Silverado and other masculine toys, until the camera pans around a bit, and we see the boy playing with a multitude of rather feminine and “girly” dolls, pony trailers, and other various toys.  Again, this may not seem like a major step for some, but to me, this is a firm statement made by a popular, American brand name, and deserves to be congratulated.  Gender stereotyping begins at such a young age, and it is essential for children to be exposed to gender equality, and not discrimination.

The commercial closes with a simple message, spoken by Tim Allen.  His fatherly role on Home Improvement was a favorite of mine, as well as my entire family.

Thank you 2012 Olympiad, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Chevy, and Tim Allen.  With strides such as these, that impact the entire globe, perhaps the world is truly moving forward.