Recently, an article ran in the LA Times about how women who post lots of photos of themselves on facebook value appearance and need lots of attention. The article goes on to say that women who spent a lot of time managing their profiles, the number of photos they shared, the size of their online networks and how promiscuous they were in terms of “friending” behavior and have the largest social networks were more highly vested in their appearance. I have 2,287 facebook friends.
Recently, an article ran in the LA Times about how women who post lots of photos of themselves on facebook value appearance and need lots of attention.
The article goes on to say that women who spent a lot of time managing their profiles, the number of photos they shared, the size of their online networks and how promiscuous they were in terms of “friending” behavior and have the largest social networks were more highly vested in their appearance.
On the one hand, I know for doggone sure that I am guilty, guilty, guilty. I am socially promiscuous -- I’ll friend any old body. I am completely vested in my appearance at least 4 out of every 7 days. I share a gajillion pictures on Facebook, (though to be fair the only album of just me is my conception-to-labor preggo pics).
So, am I caught? Absolutely. I have never EVER pretended that I don’t invest significant time and resources into dressing cute, gettin’ my hair DID, and being a self-proclaimed fashion plate. But, I also try to live intentionally by taking stock and putting less into something that has very little value in the grand scheme of things.
Last week when I reconnected with an old pal from my hood, we had the following -slightly crass- but very informative conversation:
J: “Man, y’all cute girls are crazy.
Me: What? Why?
J: Well, it’s pretty simple. We been trying to bang y’all since 6th grade, we been lyin’, manipulating and cheatin’ on y’all since forever and then we put y’all up on this crazy high horse, act like y’all are gods only to tear you down again. I blame men for cute girls being crazy. And you have the cute curse.
Me: Oh. I see. Well, that COMPLETELY explains my craziness”.
As ridiculous as the conversation looks, it holds enough truth to satisfy my issues: my social promiscuity, my value of my appearance, my need for attention, so says the study in the LA Times.
The first time a boy ever told me he wanted to have sex with me I was eight.
Eight years old. And he went into awful detail that seriously disgusted me.
He was fourteen.
Enough folks convinced my Ma I was “a beautiful mixed-race child,” and should start using my body to make the doughnuts. She enrolled me in modeling school. I started modeling at 10.
Nothing says PLEASE-VALUE-ME-FOR-HOW-CUTE-I-AM like a pre-teen modeling gig. I didn’t think I was the shiz at that time. What I thought is that there were a million other girls much prettier (and thinner) than me and I needed to decide how to create an edge real quick. At 10.
Modeling made me feel uglier. At 10. Because my ears stuck out too far, and my feet were HUGE by then.
Post modeling -- for the second time around -- and since that first scary proposition at eight, I’ve had about a gajillion young boys, teen-aged boys and now -- disgustingly -- 50 year old men express interest in one particular thing.
I’m not thinking I need to go into much more detail than that.
So, the question is: When a young girl is constantly told she is pretty and that her appearance is -essentially- all she has of value, what on earth do you think said little girl is going to put a giant amount of stock in?
SO YOU WILL HAVE TO FORGIVE ME -LA TIMES- FOR NOT BEING A LITTLE FRUSTRATED ABOUT YOUR STUPID LITTLE STUDY WHICH MOST OF US ALL READY KNEW AND DID NOT PROVIDE ANY REAL SOLUTIONS.
Ahhh... now I feel better.
I’m actually not angry but I get frustrated that we live in a culture that celebrates beautiful people and then publishes studies about how beautiful people find our self-worth in being beautiful and how we need more attention than the rest of the human population.
- Am I not already trying to limit my online celeb garbage intake?
- Am I not already passing over the gossip mags so I don’t unhelpfully wish my body looked like J.Lo’s?
- Am I not already reading GREAT books about putting my value in my faith, in my friendships and in a healthy approach to life?
- Am I not already going well out of my way to balance my time and financial resources on an appropriate interactions with beauty and fashion in general?
- Am I not aware that human beings spend $80 billion per year on the beauty industry which happens to be the same projected amount needed to eradicate world hunger?
A resounding yes.
But, I’m still “socially promiscuous.” I’m still going to be seen as an “attention whore” for putting up pictures of my new hair styles or blogging like a crazy woman.
If the LA Times wants to call my online behavior unhealthy, what’s a girl to do?
I’ll tell ya what: post the most mortifying picture I could find of myself, on the Internet.
Because you don’t know me.
Because I am not the sum of my facebook friends. And I will not be defined by a study that calls me an attention whore for liking pictures of myself.
Because I don’t really care what folks think.
I’m a normal girl with issues…. Just tryin’ to figure out a healthy way to balance who I am with what I enjoy and how I look.
What about you? How do you view posting cute or -no so cute- pics of yourself on the interwebs? Did you hear the wrong messages growing up? How have you reconciled that?
Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
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