Last time I spoke about the things I hate. Trivial matters, most of them. Petty annoyances that drive me crazy.
Today I want to talk about something I truly detest. Something that I don’t think is in the least bit petty, and has created such a crisis in our society that I can only believe that we’re doomed if we continue as we have been.
No, I’m not talking politics.
Although I have strong political feelings in my private life, lately I’ve been trying to step away from such things. Politics has become such an ugly, ugly part of our world (yes, uglier than usual), that I’ve come to find myself being annoyed even by some of the people who share my own political points of view. (I say “points” because nothing is black and white, and I’m all over the map sometimes.)
So no politics. At least not the in-your-face, vote-for-my-candidate/cause kind.
And yes, there are many things that I detest about this world (and many things I love), but I only want to speak about one of them today.
My typical writing day, now that I no longer have a “real” job, is spent getting up fairly early in the morning — 6 AM or so — drinking a cup of coffee (cream, two sugars), then sitting down at my brand new iMac (admittedly one of the things I love, even though I’m a PC guy) and writing for a few hours.
When it comes time for a break, I usually grab some breakfast, then sit down, watch something on TV or Netflix, or do some chores while listening to a book (currently Lee Child’s Gone Tomorrow).
For the last couple of days, however, I’ve found myself immersed in a documentary on Netflix called America the Beautiful.
Now, I’m sure a lot of you are thinking “politics” again, but no, this documentary isn’t really about politics, but about the systematic breaking down of the human spirit — particularly the female spirit — and replacing it with an insecurity so strong that some women are willing to destroy themselves in order to feel whole again.
I’m talking the beauty, fashion and advertising industries that go out of their way to make just about every woman in America (if not on the planet) feel that she is not nearly as beautiful as she should be.
According to the movie, the United States makes up 5% of the world’s population, but consumes 40% of its advertising. And advertising is shrewdly designed to destory our psyches, then promise to make us feel better by giving us the “cure.”
I suppose this isn’t really anything new or relevatory. Most of us know this has been going on for decades, maybe centuries, yet we continue to let advertisers manipulate us all the way to the bank.
Two of the worst industries, which are particularly good at preying on women’s insecurities are the beauty and fashion industries, where we’re led to believe that a woman can only be truly beautiful if she’s 5’9″, skinny as a rail, has flawless skin, perfect hair, a small, tight ass and large, gloriously symmetrical boobs.
This image, however, is presented through photographic manipulation that turns even the “most beautiful” women in the world — the models — into creatures that no god could ever create. A woman so perfect, so flawless, that such beauty in the real world is completely unobtainable.
This, in turn, not only destroys a woman’s self-confidence, it conditions young men to crave only perfection, and to look at normal women as something less than desirable. Even the filmmaker himself admitted that he broke up with a beautiful and loving girlfriend because she couldn’t live up to his distorted view of what true physical beauty should be.
And that, to me, is just heartbreaking.
But even more heartbreaking is the twelve year-old girl he features throughout the film, who has taken the modeling world by storm — not dressing and acting as a twelve year-old, but looking closer to twenty-two. The effect this has on her life, and on the lives of her friends, is something to see. And learn from.
But most heartbreaking to me, was a short interview with another twelve year-old who, to my mind, was just as beautiful as the young model. Yet she tells us that when she looks in the mirror, all she sees is ugly.
Another girl tells us of a friend who was so unhappy with the way she looked that she starved herself to death. This, unfortunately, is a story that is all too common in this country.
I won’t go on any more. Murderati is generally a feel good place and I know I’m not making anyone feel very good right now. But I think it’s important that we look around us and consider these things. That we realize that we’re part of the problem, too, if we allow ourselves and our children to be conditioned and indoctrinated and ultimately destroyed by this cynical exploitation.
It’s something I detest. And I hope you do, too.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good. We all want to look our best. But it’s our best we should be striving for. If we allow an industry that’s only trying to make money off of us to define what looking good means, then we’re in very serious trouble.
Last thing: the documentary includes a a couple of short films which some of you may have seen before, but I wanted to show you again. I think they say it all: