Ladies of the Round Table

April 14, 2008

Being the Beauty

Filed under: Uncategorized — craftymommy @ 4:39 am

One of my favorite things to do to relax is sit down on the couch, feet up, watching really bad, really entertaining reality shows. My favorites are the dating shows on VH 1. 20 or so women vying for the affections of a 40-50 year old man by wearing as little as possible and creating as much drama as possible. Good times.

I have two problems with the whole “sex sells” idea: when it’s a teenage/young girl, and when that’s all we are presenting as women. I am all for an adult women dressing to feel sexy. I do think that it is a part of womanhood. I dress sexy at times and I like to feel sexy. Now, my definition of what feels that way to me I have realized for a long time is much more modest than average. But I understand the need to fulfill that aspects of ourselves.

Back when I was in college I started worrying about what raising a daughter in our society would mean. I started to worry about the images that we present in mainstream media and just society behavior in general as acceptable. There were a couple of things going on at that time in my life that kind of shaped how I began to feel. It was around the time of the rise of stars such as Britney Spears and Cristina Aguilera, who utilized sex appeal as young stars. I was working retail when they were at their peak. I worked in the girls clothes section of the department store, which included babies, toddlers, and young girls. There was a junior section for teens, and a women’s section on the first floor. Prior to this all of the girls underwear were things like disney princess ones, or just plain colored ones. I only say this because one day we got a shipment in of new underwear. No kidding – they were so “sexy” (lacy, low cut designs) that I thought they had made a mistake and it was supposed to go to lingerie. Nope. Girls clothes.

I think that we say that teens and young girls shouldn’t be viewed this way, but we send an entirely different message through mainstream media, and hell, through that department store. I remember shopping for clothes for my own daughter when she was just a few months old. I went to a store in the mall only to find skirts, in her size, that honestly wouldn’t have covered diaper. They were short skirts, and I do mean short. I don’t believe at all that this was me being too modest.

These images are what I worried about a long time ago in my early twenties when I told my sociology professor that I absolutely refuse to have any girls – only boys. I had no clue how I was going to fight society on this one, and that was my big beef with raising a girl. The uphill fight with how I was beginning to realize society and the media present women and young girls.

I think that as time goes on I see more and more the sex and sexy part of being a women is pushed, and pushed so much as to begin to only highlight that aspect of being a woman. Media has come to be unforgiving in how it treats its women, especially those that are not thin enough or sexy enough. I would love to see a more shows that emphasize a more well-rounded view of women, think Beauty and the Geek where it’s the women who are in the role of being the geek.

There is an acceptance of being empowered through being the Beauty, through pushing our sex appeal rather than focusing on highlighting our other skills. I’ve spent the past month watching as one of the women in another department where I work flirt with our director (I work right next to his office). I’ve watched as she applied to be his executive assistant and go into the meeting wearing a semi-seethrough shirt, whereas the other applicants all wore suits (men and women). The last I heard she’ll be getting the job. Now, far be it from me to say that she doesn’t deserve it. What really interested me was the way she went about it. She is a women who is charming (the job requires working with clients) and is educated. I have always fought so hard to put out my skills first, fighting the idea that a woman has to be sexy to be of worth to whatever it is she is doing. This has me doubting. I have seriously considered changing the way in which I present myself at work because of it. I wonder if being less modest at work will garner me more respect – or hell, at least more money.

I think it is emphasized in the dating shows that I watch. In fact, so much that my husband hates it if I’m watching them and our daughter is anywhere near the tv. Think about these young women, who probably are so much more than just the sexy outfits that they wear, and yet to win the heart of an old man they’ve never met, they are competing in competitions where they prove their worth to him by using their sexuality to its fullest.  That’s their worth, all packaged into the smallest clothes possible.

Of course that’s not their full worth, but that is what we are presenting to society, to women, to young women – that this is what our worth is tied to.



  1. Interesting post! I think it highlights that sex sells from the toddler to the boardroom.

    Comment by Nicki — April 14, 2008 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  2. I agree with you whole-heartedly. However, I too find myself mesmerized by those ridiculous reality shows…just proving the point that sex does grab our attention. It matters not that I am appalled by what I am viewing, only that I am drawn in on some level.

    I have no idea how to change myself, let alone society. And I am scared to death that one day I might have a daughter who has the same poor self-image as her mother.

    Comment by Jen — April 15, 2008 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  3. Melinda-
    I relate to much of what you wrote and this post has given me much food for thought…

    Comment by sheljena — April 17, 2008 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

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