Girls With Fish.
Confession: I don’t fish. I don’t fish because I don’t eat fish. I’ve never taken my kids fishing and have no plans to do so, despite this picture that’s been all over my Facebook feed. I have no problem with the little kid pictured, but the caption bothers me quite a bit.
If your family are into fishing, that’s great. It’s not for everyone, though. I do think this is more of a “get girls doing things outdoors” message, which isn’t bad in itself, but why do we have to encourage girls to do outdoor activities by trashing girls that like a good selfie? I wonder if it’s really so terrible, in anyone’s estimation, that some girls are more into makeup or fashion than they are into fishing or the outdoors? Does that make them lesser people?
Of course not. If you have a picture of your daughter with a fish, it doesn’t trump my daughter’s bathroom mirror selfie. Wanna know why?
Because they aren’t in competition. They can exist alongside each other without one being told the other is somehow better than her. This apparent competition is something our society created and sharing these pictures perpetuates it.
Female Beauty is a Commodity.
We live in a culture that values a certain aesthetic for women. In fact, the standards of beauty our society prizes are almost impossible for many, if not most, of us. There is, however, still an expectation that young women should be striving towards these standards. We don’t mind young women wearing makeup or short shorts being plastered all over billboards and magazine covers. We don’t mind them draped over cars or half naked in ads on television. But should a women share a picture of herself on her own terms, we judge her as vain or shallow. We look at her with derision. We don’t want women to be proud of their appearances only for themselves. Female beauty and sex appeal is only acceptable if it’s selling us something, whether it’s a product or a fantasy- or both.
Case in point: The Kardashians. Everyone loves to hate them, right? Beautiful, successful, wealthy and queens of the selfie. Whether you love or loathe them, I’m guessing you’ll have seen some version of one of these:
In a world full of Kardashians, be different to them. Be like a fictional character or royalty who died young- be like literally anyone else. Famous, successful, wealthy and known for their business acumen, among other things. A reality show, modelling, popular apps, fashion lines- how awful. Kim K is well known for her sex tape- and reviled for it. But look at it this way. That tape was leaked and she has spoken of how humiliating that was for her. She was put in a position where that tape was in the hands of a porn company. Her choice was either do nothing (and see it leaked anyway) or to sue and make a deal with the company to have some control over its distribution as well as a share of profit. Who can say what they’d do in such a situation? I think she made the best of a horrible situation. And think about this- that tape has been viewed millions of times, in all likelihood by the same people who don’t want their daughters to be like Kim.
Some women are fine to look at, to admire, to lust after or objectify- but not to aspire to, right? Despite their successes and their skills. If they’ve made any moves towards owning their looks or (worse) their sexuality, they’re trash. We want women to be beautiful and sexy but at the same time, we punish them for it. We want them to be pretty but it must seem effortless. We want them to be sexy but they should be unaware of it unless they’re selling it, right? Being a woman involves dozens of unwritten rules we’re meant to follow and to enforce on other women- women we don’t know and women we do, including our own daughters.
Competition and Division.
I’m not saying we should or should not hold the Kardashian women up as role models for our daughters but I do question why we feel the need to put some women down in order to hold others up. The fishing picture operates on the same principle- girls catching fish are great but most importantly, they are better than girls taking selfies in the bathroom.
We don’t have to embrace all things Kardashian or buy contouring kits and selfie sticks for out tween daughters, but it would be nice if we stopped with the senseless division. Teach your daughters to recognise other women as their greatest allies, not their greatest competition. Think about what you’re really engaging in before hitting that share button. Being a woman means you have enough to contend with, this competition benefits no one.
#IBOT @ Essentially Jess.