March 5, 2010

Jessica Simpson's fall from grace and The Price of Beauty

I was flipping through my weekly research in the form of People Magazine when I came across an article on Jessica Simpson and her latest project, exploring the “Price of Beauty,” a new VH1 reality show.

I used to hold up Jessica Simpson as the poster girl for good press because she “followed the rules.”  This was years ago, obviously. This was when she was “thin,” proclaimed her virginity until her marriage to Nick Lachey and played the stupid but sweet nice girl. While Christina Aguilera was getting all sorts of bad press during her Dirrty chaps phase and other wild, hot young things of the time were getting equally negative and judgemental coverage, Jessica was flying above the radar. To me, she represented the new young woman of the Bush Jr years, a sort of virginal throwback to the 1950s in the form of a nonthreatening and loyal (to her daddy and her husband) good girl. It was about this time, approximately 5 years ago, that I had begun to notice ever increasing mediated messages that focused on staying home, baking brownies and seeking marriage as the ultimate forms of female fulfillment. Yes, that’s always been a theme for women but I had begun to notice a ratcheting up of these values throughout the media culture and Jessica Simpson was the epitome of this new young female role model being offered to young women and men.


February 25, 2010

Sugar or spice? on The Bachelor

Filed under: Gender,Media,Sexuality — Tags: , , — Melanie @ 12:54 am

Aren’t these the two options we’ve been given since girlhood?

Be the nice girl (sugar) by being sweet, eager to please, remaining a virgin (although this gets complex, a girl at my Catholic high school was proud of saving her virginity and would only have anal sex. Yeah) and land a husband.

Be a bad girl (spice) by being brazen, out-spoken, independent, sexual (uh-oh, women can be sexy but *sexual*?) and get a booty call.

It’s the classic madonna/whore dichotomy, the 2 predominant archetypes that girls and women may choose from and the 2 we’ve been offered for hundreds of years (does it feel a little dated to anyone else? I mean, really). Despite our current sex saturated media culture, we still learn early on that there’s a fine line between being good and sexy before crossing over to sexual. Sexual equals bad.

It seems limiting, no?

That’s because it is. It’s another out-dated, one-dimensional and sexist expectation for girls and women that keeps getting recycled. And it’s hella confusing when you’re bombarded with image after image telling you to show your boobs and your ass (…uh, when you’re 9 no less) but then punishes you with s word (slut).

But that’s what this season’s The Bachelor, Jake, is left with: sugar and spice in the form of “sweet” Tenley (the teary divorcee that had only ‘been’ with her husband and the one wearing the crucifix in her profile picture)) and “spicy” Vienna (who was brazen enough to visit him in his room uninvited on a two-on-one date with Gia).

Teasers for next week’s final pick pump up the anticipation and drama by asking viewers to guess which way the all-American pilot from Texas will go.

“Will Jake choose sugar or (announcers voice becomes sultry) spice?”