Month: March 2014

Sexy

“You just need to meet a group of models because they have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes and they’re the most physically insecure women probably on the planet” – Cameron Russell, Supermodel

In relation to my last post a fellow INDEVOUR reminded me of the campaign Aerie is running this Spring called Untouched. Their featured models are girls that would not typically be chosen to show a line of intimates and the photos are advertised without any touch-ups. Their tagline: the real you is sexy.

Aerie’s clientele consists primarily of girls, aged 16-21 and they realize that this age is a vulnerable time for females. They want to encourage self-confidence and acceptance – two things my 16-year-old character was definitely lacking. I can, however, hear my younger self observing the photos thinking “aaaand they still look flawless”.

The girls in the photos are, by employment, still models – makes sense, they are modeling, but is the message that Aerie is trying to send what consumers are hearing? Or is the “message” just a part of their corporate social responsibility and not actually “we want you to accept who you are”? It would not be the first time we’ve seen that. A critic of the campaign asks “what happens when Spring is over?” Back to the business of flawlessness as usual?

While waiting in line at a store the other day, I picked up a book about Marilyn Monroe (I know, typical example but it fits…no pun intended) and flipped through the pages of pictures. One picture was this:

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I turned it to my friend, surprised, and said “that would never be accepted today!”

Their tagline is also somewhat bothersome. It leaves girls feeling like sexy is their only option and assumes that every girl wants to be sexy. The line between being called sexy and being objectified is pretty thin. If you don’t already know some of the serious consequences that objectification leads to, check out this past blog – not something I take lightly.

The name of their campaign Untouched also hints of a double standard given to girls (thanks society, once again): you have to be sexy but remain unadulterated – whatever that means.

Aerie, I agree that the real you/me/her is sexy, thank you, but I think your campaign is just a marketing scheme. Society has unrealistic expectations of what women are supposed to look like or be. I’m not convinced that this campaign is going to help young females view themselves in a more positive light. If they are anything like I was as an adolescent, it will only encourage their next pursuit of “perfection.”

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Lessons from Macklemore

Naked. It’s how we come into the world, but we are almost immediately socialized to a lifestyle opposite that. For hygiene purposes alone I think this to be a good thing, but the process behind the tag on your shirt can be a bloody one.

I really like fashion. Every academic break I get involves altering/making/designing clothes of some sort. If there weren’t so many pressing problems in the world, I would seriously consider a career in fashion (or rap, or Eastern medicine…I digress). Aware of  (some of) the appalling conditions of factories producing most of the clothes we buy, I went on a shopping fast for the year 2011. In that year I decided if I wanted something new, I could renovate something I already had. I learned a lot, and sewed a lot, but I am no seamstress and was eventually (after the fast, of course) in need of some new clothes.

Tansy E. Hoskins, author of Stitched Up, talks about how fashion is represented as an open operation where you can do what you want. Of course art and personal taste are relative, but how much originality is given to consumers?

She says that poor treatment of garment workers (many of which are children), severe environmental degradation, racial and gender discrimination, and a Western culture of over-consumption can all be blamed on capitalization. It dictates what we think we want, what we wear, what we spend to get it. The sick state of the fashion industry is not due to only one issue.

There are only a few corporations governing almost the entire fashion industry. Hoskins believes that they are what control the cultural heritage we have become accustomed to. This stifles the creativity in fashion and (directly or indirectly) destroys everything in its path.

Many retailers have become aware of their consumers’ ethical consciousness and have begun reporting on the ethical practices of their industry. While corporate social responsibility is a good practice, my cynical side believes many retailers use one example of their ethical ways to cover up the many factories that are not operated in a just way. I must acknowledge, however, the complexity of the situation and realize that complete change cannot happen within the span of two reports.

Something I recently learned is that American Eagle has several reports on how they are bring justice to the garment industry. Did you know American Eagle:

•takes your old denim jeans (from any store) and recycles them for housing insulation

•takes new, single shoes for individuals needing only one shoe, or different sizes of shoes

•takes broken jewelry to Materials for the Arts (MFTA) to provide free art material to charitable and educational programs

We all need clothes, I mean, the alternative is unclean and kind of awkward, but next time you think you hear that shirt calling your name ask yourself: do I need it? Maybe you do. If that’s the case, can you justify giving money to the corporation behind the shirt? Maybe you can, there are many ethically inspired retailers out there today, just look them up! And of course, one can always pull a Macklemore and go thrifting, cause $50 for a t-shirt, that’s some ignorant bull, yo.

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My Inner Monster Part Two: Porn Is Harmful

As suggested by a fellow INDEVOUR, I am doing a follow up to My Inner Monster. Just as I assumed, certain elements of the conference caused me to hold back tears, to cry (I am convinced that I feel emotions at least ten units stronger than the average person) and of course, to learn.

One of the (many amazing) talks given, one that stuck out to me was given by another fellow INDEVOUR, Ian Pinnell. He gave a side of the story we don’t usually think about – the perpetrators, also known as the Johns. A question was raised during the forum at the end of the conference: do you think pornography in any way contributes to human trafficking?

Yes. It most certainly does.

People are sheep. We follow what we see. Watching something being done activates the same neurological triggers as actually performing the act. Pornography influences the psyche in powerful ways. It has the ability to influence a viewer’s perspective of other people, and of themselves.

  • Non-violent pornography significantly affects a person’s want for physical intimacy, discouraging healthy sexual activity
  • Of the 50 best-selling adult videos 90% contained violence and 94% of that was against women
  • Online pornography has shown a 20% rise in sexual attacks by minors and an increased likelihood of virtual rape by 600%

A study done in 2005 looking at the link between aggression and pornography use proved so strong of a relation that a replication of the study is against ethical regulations. Ana J. Bridges from the University of Arkansas studied Pornography’s Effects on Interpersonal Relationships and found that any amount of porn caused viewers to:

  1. .                 Report decreased empathy for rape victims
  2. .                 Believe that a woman who dresses “provocatively” deserves to be raped
  3. .                 Report anger at women who flirt but refuse to have sex
  4. .                 Experience substantially decreased interest in their partners
  5. .                 Report increased interest in coercing partners into unwanted sex acts

Within this disgusting industry, child pornography is growing the fastest. Eighty-five percent of those arrested for possession of child pornography had personally abused a child and 80% of them were active abusers. While I have maintained gender-neutral language, every statistic I read claimed the perpetrators to be men. This is how one becomes a John. Desensitizing, virtual lies that trick one’s vulnerable brain into thinking certain activities are desired and okay.

This is evidently a large problem that is difficult to solve (how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, and invite a bunch of friends over to help!). As Ian stated at the conference, I believe the largest tool to end such behaviour is prevention; prevention by awareness, education and open conversation.

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I am going to start by filling my little brother’s open mind with TRUTH. The true meaning of woman and what that means his role is as a real man. The reality about the world we live in, and how to recognize and disassemble the lies we hear everyday.

Where will (or was) your first bite of the elephant be?

Surf the Web to Surf Better Waves

I don’t have a personal bucket list (I have a shared one) but something that I will do one day is surf. There is something about a large expanse of water, sun and my quieted mind that appeals to me more than even John Legend’s voice. Through research and friends’ trips, I have learned that Indonesia is a good place to catch some great waves.

Unfortunately the water bodies surrounding Indonesia have accumulated large, unhealthy deposits of garbage mostly within the last few years. The country is a tiny gathering of islands in between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This allows garbage to flow in from several different continents. Critics argue, however that the largest contribution to this issue is within Indonesia.

Over 800 textile factories have been set up in Indonesia within the last 30 years. Environmental regulations are minimal and most politicians addressed about the issue claim they are not the authority on the matter and put responsibility on someone else. Education on pollution is also failing to inform citizens of the importance of environmental stewardship.

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Sonny Perrussel, a young surfer from Bali is disgusted by what his backyard has become. After reluctant debating with Bali’s governor Pastika, the province will ban the use and selling of plastic bags provided that Perrussel gets 1 000 000 signatures on a petition. Although plastic bags are just a part of this problem, banning them would decrease waste going out and serve as an educational tool for anyone that presently uses plastic bags….so, all of Bali.

Thanks to technology you don’t have to be a resident of Bali (although that might be alright) to sign this petition. I just signed it and they are slightly over 50 000 signatures. All it takes is your email. Be a part of this act that will better another part of the 100%. Seriously, though, it takes 26.2 seconds of your time and has the potential to improve the lives of an entire province. What are you waiting for? Go sign the petition already!