Take a Note from Heyes, Ringrose, and Walkerdine- Feminists Kicking Media Butt.
Why is our society so obsessed with presenting us “the perfect woman”? Moreover, why doesn’t our society pressure men equally to have the perfect body? Women are pressured more and more to look, act, and ultimately become the perfect woman - the socializer, the wife, the professional, the mother. Each role comes with its specific requirements: sexy, friendly, compassionate, loving, sophisticated, beautiful, dignified - and all equipped with a beautiful face and physique.
Coming from an average woman - how the hell are we supposed to do this, ladies? I, for one, do not look the most dignified when I’m studying in my PJs for a final. I don’t exactly feel sexy during Aunt Flo’s visit. And I sure as hell cannot be the perfect lover when I am sick with the flu.
Society places unreasonable standards on the modern-day women, that we (women) seemingly cannot escape. These standards are pushed on us through every media outlet available. Not only are we shown what we ‘should look like’- men are also shown what the perfect woman looks like. Advertising specifically for men often features the skinny, beautiful, mysterious woman. And advertising for women also shows the domesticated, loving, perfect housewife. I feel like these are much too many roles to fill.
So how is the modern-day woman to become the “perfect” woman of society’s standards? Ringrose and Walkerdine suggest that make-over television has transformed the feminine into “a new site of limitless possibility and endless consumption” (227). The make-over consumes the ‘normal’ woman and turns her into the ‘perfect’ woman through cosmetic surgery. Make-overs present abject subjects and mystifies the audience with their transformation. Abject, in this case, is something to be mocked or humiliated; an act that is degrading and shameful. So, the abject is the imperfect woman needed to be rectified, via make-over TV. Ringrose and Walkerdine go on to suggest “the central premise of contemporary make-over programs is… the working class woman who fails both as a subject/object of self-reflextivity, desire, and consumption” (227). Both the body and the mind are sites of abjection needed to be made-over into something to be desired, not laughed at.
The modern-day woman commodified = the perfect woman.
Continuing on with the theme of televisual makeovers redeeming the imperfect woman, Heyes outlines cosmetic surgery as the “contemporary manifestation of normalization” (17). TV makeovers use cosmetic surgery to butcher the modern-day “normal” woman into the “perfect” woman. This normalization brings woman who deviate from the perfect-woman-norm up to par with the beauties of society. Why do women agree to participate in these kinds of makeovers? Has society put such pressure on us that we are willing to butcher our given bodies into a fairy tale persona?
Just some feminist food for thought on a sunny October day.
For more information on the subject, please see:
Ringrose, J. & Walkerdine, V. “Regulating the Abject: The TV Make-Over as Site…”Feminist Media Studies. 8(3). 2008: 227-246. Online.
Heyes, Cressida J. “Cosmetic Surgery and the Televisual Makover: A Foucauldian Feminist Reading” in Feminist Media Studies. 7(1). 2007: 17-32. Online.