Killing Us Softly

Killing Us Softly

How media and industries are the result of self-affirmation

Since the beginning of television and media, industries have been shaming women's bodies and making the “ideal” body for women quite impossible.

Recently, it has become extremely aware that models of our generations are becoming smaller. Whether it is for an advertisement for “Gucci” where you can see a young girl’s ribs and pelvic bones, to “Victoria Secret” ad where the models look sickly. In the video, “Killing Us Softly” by Jean Kilbourne, shows how the television and media world have been steadily making the women’s body something that isn’t healthy nor realistic.

While watching this video, you can see that this issue has become quite worse as the time continues on. Not only are women bodies turning into stick figure shapes, but they are now being turned into objects. Whether it’s for a beer advertisement where the woman changes into a keg or it’s for an “American Apparel” ad where the woman’s legs are high in the air for a boy to be holding them.

Due to this unrealistic realization, young girls from all around the world have succumbed to eating disorders and slowly starving themselves into something that is quite impossible.

According to the film, gender roles are frequently taught through the media and the expectations of women have become a standard for young girls. Girls are expected to be skinny, yet not too thin, classy, but wild, and naturally beautiful, but not fake. The standards that the media and industries put forth can be impossible and dangerous for young girls to achieve.

This is how eating disorders and self-esteem issues comes to hand. Kilbourne states how it’s “…sexy to look like a little girl” according to the media. In the film, this statement is followed by an abundance of photos of women that have been formed into a “small” or “inferior” figure. The picture that was drawn to me was one where a model was hunched over to look as if she was a small object trying to disappear.

This model was extremely skinny and being hunched over, you could see her ribs and the slimness of her waist. All women are not supposed to fit this body type. Like Kilbourne states, women bodies are all different. This only leaves women and girls from around the world in a state of depression because they can’t fulfill the societal needs. The thing that continues to run through my mind happens to be that it isn’t only girls and women that need to fulfill societal needs.

Women being ashamed for their bodies also affects men because men are looked upon as animals. Media and industries advertise their products by using girls and women in a sexual way, which draws men to buy their products.

This is usually effective with males, yet one problem for women is being degraded and with these advertisements, they illustrate men objectifying women. I don’t know what’s worse. Having someone rope me in with all of my gender and looking at us like were all animals or having someone constantly degrade me.

From seeing in stores the isles of boy toys versus girl toys to having parents expect boys and girls to play different sports. Men are taught at such a young age that being muscular, stern, dominating and able to take charge is how they are supposed to be. Men are expected at a young age to play football or baseball, sports that categorize them as strong and powerful because sports like these make a young boy more masculine.

Young boys are constantly taught that being superior is the way of life for them. In photos of male models, you can see how their stance indicates superiority and how being masculine sells a simple pair of jeans. This affects men because they are taught that being emotional will be detrimental for their future life. That if they show their emotions or wear their heart on their sleeve that it will affect the way that people look at them.

They are taught this at such a young age by media, television, and even other peers that constantly reinforce the views of media. Men and women are influenced by whomever they surround themselves with and because of this you can see the extreme gender socialization that becomes aware through the media. Each gender is expected to perform certain roles and this only causes men and women to feel like they have no other option then to be what society wants them to be.

Personally, I liked the film because of the awakening affect it had on me. Being a girl, I have always wanted to look like the Victoria Secret models and be tall and skinny.

After watching this film and listening to Kilbourne discuss how media impacts our views on our genders, I am able to see how media is one of the main reasons that young girls in our generation suffer from self-esteem disorders. Kilbourne argues against the media and she provides evidence to back it up, which only allows the audience to fully understand her views.

This film counteracts society’s views, which allows the audience to take a step back and rethink the way that society has affected them. For me, I thought that the best part of the film is when Kilbourne says, “feminism is an individual self-expression is more likely to sell baubles and Botox than it is to do what we set out to do so many years ago, which is to change the world”. This one statement spoke to me the most because attending a liberal college, I’m constantly surrounded by numerous young girls who talk about feminism.

I support the true meaning of feminism and how the original meaning was to change the world for young women, yet feminism has begun to be thrown around as just another word. When in reality, it’s a whole other story. Jean Kilbourne may not be able to change the way media portrays men and women, but her spreading the awareness of this could save numerous lives.

Once the world sees how the intentions of the media are falsely advertising society’s needs, I believe that the freedom of loving ourselves and our self-worth will become more apparent to individuals who are struggling.

I chose two advertisements from Vogue magazine that I thought represented the message of “Killing Us Softly”. In the first picture, the model is hunched over and hiding her face as if she’s trying to shy away from the camera. Like I stated in the previous paragraph, models who are bent or hunched over have this state of inferiority towards whoever is viewing the picture.

In the second picture I picked, the model is dressed like a young girl painting. She’s wearing long socks and has a blank facial expression on her face. The message that both of these ads have, is that the model in one of the pictures is hunched where she’s hiding her body, while the other model is perceived of being a young girl that is supposed to be viewed as “sexy.”

I picked the first because in my essay, a model being hunched over really spoke to me the most because of the way media and industries are portraying girls as inferior to the outside world. I picked the second ad because in “Killing Us Softly” Kilbourne discusses how women are being shaped into young girls through media and industries.

Cover Image Credit: gabby powell

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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.

Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school.

I'll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted.

Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I'm 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?"

A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?", I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week." I let it roll off of my back, I've spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back"… but I think it's time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister.

She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn't have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her.

I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn't though. I didn't let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization.

Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn't directed to what we, in today's society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one's self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 'Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 'You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so.

This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God's creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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The Pulse Affect

Where do we stand 2 years later?


It's been 2 years since the infamous Pulse shooting and everyone, including myself, is still affected. I remember so clearly how I was too scared to go to any pride events afterward. I knew that's what the shooter wanted, was for us all to retreat back into the closest we so bravely came out of, but still, I couldn't bring myself to leave the bed.

The news had hit me harder than any of the previous shooting. While it was still a mass shooting such as what was happening at the schools, the target was more specific. He went in there with the mind of not just killing people, but people associated with the LGBT community. The scene was so horrible, that some of the first responders have even mentioned having PTSD still from the scene.

The news had sunk everyone's heart and many flocked to social media just to find out if friends were there or not. The toll was 49 innocent people who had lost their lives to a despicable individual I refuse to name. I feel he received too much attention in the media as it was.

It also didn't take long for the focus to switch from the victims to the "how could we prevent this"—which isn't a bad question, but the two sides who seemed to differ on opinions so much just turned it into yet another screaming match. That being said, those who weren't on the extreme end of it found themselves seeking comfort from each other. For many people, this attack did scare them, but I think within the horrifying event came a new sense of community.

For those who had family or friends that were victims of such an attack, my heart goes out to you. The mourning doesn't stop, and while I know there are no words that can be strung together to bring closure, I can show my support and continue to fight for equality and help educate whoever I can. The tragedy isn't something I wish on anyone, and the wound stills fresh to me despite not having any personal connections to anyone.

To end this story on a hopeful note, today people are doing positive things in honor of the victims of the pulse attack. One article writes about a couple who spends their time cleaning up the area of litter and mentions others donating money, objects, or their own time in hopes to help anyone in need. One direct quote from this article is "Last year, more than 2,500 people volunteered their time in support of Acts of Love and Kindness, and while there was no official tally yet for this year's outpouring, it seems likely that many will go uncounted."

I encourage people today to reach out to one another, no matter orientation or identity. Love one another and don't let things strip others of their human qualities. We are all human and have the ability to do good. The shooting was tragic, but we should not let it keep us from celebrating who we are and embracing each other with open arms. Don't let the worlds hate scare you or stifle your creativity. We will not let anyone push us back into the dark, no better their best effort. Live on and keep your heart open to love.

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