Growing Up Female In America In 2011
Philosopher Michel Foucault wrote of one of the major mechanisms in society—the categorization of people into “normal” and “abnormal.” Foucault's emphasis is particularly relevant in addressing gender and the body in popular culture. There are numerous critical works on the subject of normalization, especially as it is manifested in the advertising industry. Susan Bordo offers a critique of the codes of slenderness in the fashion industry, picking up on her stellar Unbearable Weight. Normalization establishes a pathology of the body—quite simply, some bodies are identified as normal (typically, in popular culture these are “slender” bodies) and others are labeled as abnormal, pathological bodies in need of repair.

Various industries of normalization are created to allow women to transform their bodies into the correct type. As Joan Jacobs Brumberg makes clear, “girls today make the body into an all-consuming project in ways young women of the past did not.” These industries include weight loss products, dieting drugs, cosmetic surgery and various types of clothing."
“The media may present negative images but despite political finger-pointing, they do not create core values. “Sexism was not born in the media, but it is most visible there," stated sociologist Karen Sternheimer at a recent seminar sponsored by the Center for Media Literacy in Los Angeles. "Although [the media is] a pervasive force, we are not passive recipients," she noted.

Indeed, according to Carlos Cortes, author of The Children are Watching: How the Media Teach About Diversity, "we each bring our own experience, culture and age to our understanding of media images." Many women and young girls are able to resist media messages and make up their own minds about what messages they will accept or reject.

This ability to think critically must begin early in a child’s life, notes Dr. Jane Brown, a media researcher at the University of North Carolina, who has spent over 12 years
researching, as she describes it, "sex, drugs and rock ‘roll."”

We see images every day that subconsciously make an impression on us. It may seem like we just ignore them but the truth is you see it and you know what the message is. We all know that in today’s world “beautiful” women are those who are almost an unhealthy skinny and flawless skin with great hair. However, most women realize that trying to look like the most ‘perfect’ women isn’t going to happen, and certainly not easily. Even after countless surgeries, you’re still not going to be perfect and probably won’t be any happier than you were before. So save yourself a ton of money and time; you are beautiful in your own way.

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Representation of Power
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“Bring to light the constructed nature of our definitions of race, identity, nation, and religion. Regardless of how “enlightened” we might feel, we perhaps are even more trapped by our own enlightenment — for in many ways it is our intellectualism that causes us to be part of the bourgeois class. Yet we must remain constantly aware of – and diligent to the fact that – as part of the educated class/caste, we represent and are the voice of a particular power structure.” What does it mean to have power? Power has many definitions but all generated to have the same idea; having great force or effect, and having a great influence. Our society and lifestyles power our lives in so many ways. We don’t even realize the influence upon us unless we really think about it. How is it that we came about believing what we believe? Influence and power. Without having power and influence we wouldn’t live, we wouldn’t know how to.

“The lackluster presence of any kind of ethical standards simply means that the effort to turn the direction of our global society must be increased. There has always been unethical behavior in the world. Apathy and acceptance of behavior blatantly unethical must be replaced with a commitment to return to sound principles of conduct. As a starting point, let me suggest that if we simply all began to follow the mandates of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, we’d be very much on the path of corrective action.

Start with yourself. Hold “you” to high standards and morally sound ethical principals centered on the eleven rules just mentioned. By your example, others will begin to see the soundness of your actions. Your life can affect the life of friends and family. Don’t underestimate the power of one. Make a difference by teaching the world to return conscience to decision making.

The next time you face a particularly difficult decision, answer these questions: Can I share my decision with everyone? Is it legal? How does the decision make me feel about myself? Who does this decision negatively impact? Why am I making this particular decision? Have I clearly defined the problem requiring a decision to be sure I’m addressing the correct issue? Does this decision serve the company or me personally? Is the decision based upon facts consistent with fair play? Is the decision consistent with organizational values and culture or my own personal system of ethics? Is the decision fair and balanced to those it impacts? The answers to these questions will clearly identify the ethics of a decision relative to your own personal standards. By being very clear on our five to ten core values, we establish the ground rules for running our life. We know when we act contrary or incongruent to our values. Ignoring this feeling usually gets us in trouble. Most understand the difference between right and wrong. They just choose to follow wrong!

Everyone has moral autonomy. We have the power to make individual choices, important to us, as we move through life. Choices are based upon the personal set of values we’ve established as rules for how we will live our life. Most understand that all choices are not necessarily ethical. But most know when such choices are made."

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Representation of Difference
“The existence of difference and discrimination in society, due to inadequate access to socially valued resources such as healthcare, housing, employment and the justice system, permits social differentiation and enables the formation of social classes. Social classes are a chief mechanism of organization and social control in Australian society, allowing the distribution of power, wealth and privilege as well as the formation of socioeconomic statuses and thus a form of identification, which ultimately reinforces difference rather than commonality. They are, however, also an important mechanism of self and group identity. Those at the top of the social class hierarchy attain power, authority, wealth and political privileges, generally presenting a vested interest in maintaining their social position and socioeconomic statuses, thus consolidating and reasserting their power and authority. This action of consolidating ones power may lead to institutionalized discrimination, which is evident with evaluation of Indigenous Australians.”

With the formation of socioeconomic statuses, power, wealth, and privilege we see dividing lines amongst the people. There are many people who will look down to anyone below their own statuses which then makes people feel excluded and “outcast-like.” Race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and having any form of disability put each person in a vulnerable state of mind with a fear of not being accepted. Constantly living a life of fear from being discriminated against and judged everywhere you go takes quite a toll on some people. Everyone’s reactions to difference are different. It’s all about having an open, accepting mind. No one is perfect so to look down at someone because they may not have the same opportunities as you is just wrong.

Creations, choices, values, beliefs, appearance, ethnicity, practices/habits, work, hobbies, family, friends, interests, and objects/possessions are the things that make you who you are. Choices is huge, you always have to choose some offer over another and the logic behind that choice further proves who you are and what kind of person you want to continue to be. Morals, beliefs, and values all play a role in the decision making to choose one offer over another. All of these things integrate to make humans human.

By not conforming to what the relative norm is makes people look at you in a different way. They “other” you and question your choices to make you maybe rethink that decision. Not everyone is going to like you decision because it might go against their morals and what they believe, but you weren’t put on this earth to please everyone. You were put on this earth to be you, to be happy being your own person with your own way of thinking and individuality.

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Connection “As we have grown up, we have always been taught to be ourselves and to make sure that we were unique; however media today has distorted this idea and has learned to group people together assuming that they are all the same. This is especially true with how teenagers are represented in the media. There is a certain age bracket from about 15-18 that has been clustered together and generalized for everything from how they dress to what they do to even how they act and what they say. They are so easily targeted because essentially they can’t speak up for themselves and when they try, they either prove their point or are never heard.”
When I read this I couldn’t have agreed more. It is so difficult try to be “ourselves” because of all the pressure put on us to act and dress a certain way. Sabihah talked about the media being full of pressure and ideas about how to act, which made me start to think about other ways we are pressured to be a certain way. I thought about how in private schools there is a strict uniform policy which hinders any teenager from trying to find their own style and personality. They have to wear the same thing every day and I feel like that can really hold someone back in their pursuit to be unique and different from others. Some will hide behind the uniform while others will make the best of it and try to make it their own. I thought this related to my ideas about identity. I think that finding your true identity is really important, especially when you’re in that age bracket form 15-18. You need to be able to find your voice in the world, and think and speak from yourself, in the best interest of your life goals.
Refer to: Sabihah