Models, Kardashians and Feminism

I don’t know the name of a single Victoria’s Secret model.

I don’t follow the Kardashians anywhere or know who’s the daughter of who.

I don’t believe Nicki Minaj is the first example of a feminist.

Maybe it’s the way I’ve been brought up, or maybe it’s just me. But I have very strong beliefs about a few things – the modeling industry, pop culture and my opinion about the psychology behind the girls in our society today. But before I start, I’m going to have to give you a back-drop about this post.

So, until the end of sophomore year, I was a very carefree girl; someone who rocked a high ponytail and laughed all day long, never felt offended too easily and was as strong as her exterior with absolute no make-up. I’d look into the mirror and feel happy that I was putting on some weight; I believed my mom, my dad and random aunties completely when they told me I looked healthier and happier. My best friend was smarter than me by 5 notches, and I will admit I’ve felt jealous every now and then, but I know I was always confident about myself.

Then hit junior year. I started off just the same, but when I look at myself today, I’m so different. I feel like my eyes aren’t ‘presentable’ if I don’t have my eyeliner on. I feel like my hair isn’t set right if I don’t put that dab of serum. I feel like my acne, which has actually been getting so much better over the past 1.5 years, is the focal center when someone looks at me. I feel ugly in my own skin. My mom and dad keep telling me I’m look weak and like a patient or skeleton. The weighing machine shows me that I’ve lost several pounds over the last year. But I don’t listen to any of them, I still see that ugly reflection who has so much more to do to be ‘beautiful’, just like them. I’ve talked about this so many times, but I’m more insecure – not just about how I do in a specific dimension, but more about how I look and my self-confidence.

So that’s a little about my transformation over high school. And while apparently easy to notice when I put it in writing, it’s really not in reality. Because I’m still the same happy person, it’s not easy to catch. But I’ve been thinking about it lately, and I think I found out why. Maybe it could just be the factor of growing up and caring more about how you look superficially. But I’m going to go ahead and give the influencing credit to my environment.

When I joined IB in junior year, I remember me as the same person in sophomore. Even when I look back at pictures today, hell, they were ugly to my standards today. But when I think about the memories? I think they’re stronger than my rather ‘perfectly angled’ selfies today. And through the last two years, I have to confess that there’ve been so many conversations that I’ve felt like an outsider in. So many times where I’d fake excitement, or so many times where I’d feel the necessity to go back and find out who we were talking about. And through the uncomfortable times, I think I’ve been influenced too.

For instance, I was the kind to never rant about body types or the hourglass figure. Who I transformed into, became another product of the modern fashion industry who labels clothes and people in the same way – sizes. I don’t judge, no, that’s not the point – point is, I had begun to care.

I’ve lost respect for the modeling industry. I don’t blame the models, they’re doing their job and they’re doing what they’re passionate about. I blame the agencies behind them, and I’m fearful of the influence of these so-called models. Because the influence already hit. Bulimia and Anorexia are new world diseases. The influence can clearly be seen from the change in portrayal of curvy women to skinny women by Disney Channel and Hollywood as a whole. And the influence can most definitely be seen in my exposure to their superficial world over time.

And sometimes, I get asked, “Why do you not like Victoria’s Secret specifically?” To which, my answer right now is, I dislike the concept of ripping clothes off a woman’s body and framing them as models, exposing their skinny bodies with flat stomachs and toned legs with that ‘perfect’ thigh gap, be it an international company or a local one. Now, why do I stress on Victoria’s Secret? I don’t really actually, they’re just in my opinion, the most strongest influence out of these all. And moreover, the fact that these models aren’t just called “models” for our society, they’re called “angels”. And I really don’t want to even begin about how much that bothers me.

And now, coming down the pop culture.

See, everyone who knows me knows that I’m a strong feminist. Someone who believes a girl should wear what they want, act the way they want and be who they really are. However, even if you do blame this on the way I was brought up, I believe that a girl should behave a way depending on where they are and their situation. And I’ve told you, based on who I identify myself with, what would you expect me to say now? That’s right, I think a boy should do the same. There’s a place and reason for everything.

Now, boiling down to the point. Celebrities are put on the spotlight where the whole world is their audience. Now, I’m not going to begin to refer to celebrities who’re known to just do their thing and yet, receive bunch of hate – Miley Cyrus for example. Her life story and people’s opinions about her are just a whole other debate. But back to this, I’m going to first take the example of the Kardashians.

Why are the Kardashians so famous today? I just want an answer that’ll convince me. Sex tape leading to millions of dollars. Admittedly, it could just be classified an accidental product that fed into the porn industry, and you could assume or vision Kim to just be a famous porn star who tracked into other fields. But, leaving aside that for a second, to me, it’s more just about a leaked sex tape placed them on top of the world. And while it doesn’t bother me personally, it bothers me what message this sends down to the society. Why does Kim K have 27.2 million followers on Instagram? And what about her two little sisters – Kylie and Kendall, I think? What did they do to be considered idols and perfect beings? Breast implants and cosmetic surgery? See, I get that you get fame from being in a reality show and that its inevitable. But the amount of fame that is spiraling and their growth that seems to dominate all over the Internet is ridiculous. I just don’t seem to understand why it’s not so clearly evident to people though.

Oh, and Nicki Minaj. From the few interviews I’ve seen of her, she basically tells her audience you need a “butt” and curves to be desirable. Saving my rant for a just a bit, but to transfer the same thoughts in the form of a video, I’d say watch this video.

But to rebut myself, I do not know much about them and this probably isn’t my place to say, but this is what I have to gain at first glance.

Besides, if we really want to pick apart women who’ve stood up for the girls, why not frame these people as the real “idols” for our girls in our society, more often instead?

And now, moving on to my last segment – the girls of today. I’m going to be generalizing here a bit, warning you pre-hand. But, I think us girls in general, we’re so impacted by what we see, what we scroll down on Tumblr and what we see our ‘idols’ or ‘models’ do. I think this influence is so clearly noted in how girls today need to dance in a certain way, act in a certain way, talk to guys in a certain way and look in a certain way. And to cater this influence, I think girls change the way they act or in superficial things, like what they wear – looking desirable through revealing stuff.

If you may have noticed while reading or even if not, here it is right now: I’ve made several references to clothing and otherwise. How do I call myself a feminist? Good question. Like I said, I think it’s not appropriate to wear a bikini to the Vizag beach even though its a beach. I think it’s not appropriate to wear a sleeveless shirt into a mosque even though you think you’re all covered up. I think it’s not appropriate to walk into a temple in shorts. So, extending the same, like my Dad keeps telling me, it’s not wrong to show cleavage, no. It’s not wrong to wear crop tops, no. It’s not wrong to dress the way you want, no. But the age and the relevance to the location and the time matter. But if someone else was brought up differently or has a different value system, well and good, all respected.

And hey, thinking about all of this for a while now, I think my transformation is cycling back to reversal. Insecurity is still on top, but my definition of beauty, need to put on eyeliner or need to stalk models on Instagram or need to talk about that girl’s body on Tumblr has changed. I’ve begun to just smile and nod at conversations that I’m not comfortable in or that I don’t believe in. Because see, I’m not going to argue. Why? Because two things: 1. All of this stuff I’ve been talking about is natural phenomena. It’s expected to happen; that’s why the industry exists. 2. I’m a girl too at the end of the day. I’m going to end up looking at Facebook profiles, skimming through pictures and going all “Dang, she’s so beautiful.” But I’m trying to be good to myself. And I want to be in constant denial or away from such influence, until I can be that confident self again who’s not sensitive to every remark. That’s all, so please no hate.

I don’t know if I’ve made sense to anyone but myself. I don’t think I’ve said half of what I’ve wanted to say, in all honesty. But it’s late in the night and my head’s hurting trying to arrange things into appropriate ideas for it to make sense. In times like this, I’d rather debate it out than write it out. So if you know me, or if you’d want to ask something, feel free to do so anytime; I’m up to talk.

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2 thoughts on “Models, Kardashians and Feminism

  1. Old Comment: I love this post, it’s so true. I especially agree about the approriateness of clothing in regard to time and place. Trust me, I enjoy reading your posts. – Sahiti

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  2. Past Reply: I think from what everything you’ve said or claimed or argued, you did get me on one part. Beyoncé. I still stay grounded to the fact that I don’t completely agree with the way she gets out, but maybe that’s just a result of who I am.
    So, let’s start off with redefining who I am. I’m an Indian girl, who holds her cultural values and traditions very close to heart because that’s how I was brought up. I call myself a feminist, not by standards of modernity today but that of what the dictionary holds: advocating social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men. And to drag the same extended definition into context and what I believe should stand true in todays times, is that a feminist is someone who believes in the independence of a woman, while still supporting and holding up what each woman and her place.
    So a little disclaimer here: I may be going completely factually incorrect and someone might be rolling their eyes – but like you’ve said and like I’ve previously actually emphasized a few times – we’re all entitled to personal opinions. So here’s mine.
    And oh, at the end of this, you don’t have to agree with the fact that I’m a feminist. It’s a personal belief and it’s what I identify myself with, but if there’s a new definition of it that I’m not informed of, feel free to go ahead and rip the label off.
    I still believe a woman has every right and it’s a bare necessity today for themselves to feel proud and comfortable in their own skin and bodies. That’s something to take pride in, and something I really wish we could all do. But close your eyes, leave what you strongly hold in mind for a few seconds and hear me out. How can this dream be ever possible for everyone to feel secure and safe and proud in their own bodies, when all we see in the media is twerking with “big butts” or “an ass like that”? Seeing every music video today where that part of the body is emphasized on and made to look like something of great necessity if you want to look appealing and sexy, isn’t feeling confident in my eyes; you’re trying to create a new phenomenon. And alright, granted, my sincerest apologies, I stand incorrect and maybe this is a way for women to display their self confidence. You may be absolutely true. But why is it that out of the 4 odd Nicki Minaj interviews that I’ve seen, she talks a good 1-2 minutes, making it a point to talk about her butt, how she can twerk, her ‘boobs’ or what not. Now if you’re feeling confident, you don’t need to do this every time the media pops a microphone at you. And I watched an interview of someone I can’t place my finger on (I’m not sure if it was Amanda Seyfried or someone else), but she basically said, she thought curves were a must to look feminine. True feminists…ah yes.
    So you give your justification about how and why Nicki Minaj is considered a feminist. Even though I still am not going to agree on this no matter how long we can go on in an argument because of my close judgment based on her interviews, and based on several of those perspectives I hold and the kids in the hyperlinked video hold. If we were to pick celebrities who were to be coined as feminists today and if someone picked Nicki first, I’d be perplexed.
    Especially when there exist people like Oprah Winfrey, Queen Latifah, Lupita Nyongo, Rhianna and Tyra Banks. They’re all black too. And they’re all feminists too.
    And I do not even want to start on Kim Kardashian. Because there’s enough to say about her. True, she may have had launched several things. But it’s a world of money. A sex tape leading to millions and millions of dollars, do not tell me that one is going to sit at home and keep ordering food. Of course not. Which is what she’s doing right now. I’m sorry, but no respect.
    And again, two things that you’ve directed straight at me, with a tone that was extremely assuming and in my opinion, rude.
    1. Who ever said anything about me not being comfortable with their confidence? Like I said, there’s a way you do things. And maybe, this is a difference in value system, but you’re absolutely nobody to come and tell me that I think whatever I believe in because I don’t believe in their confidence. I still stand by my word to several of my opinions in the post, from the twerking to beyond.
    2. “Why am I blaming them for my own problems?” My problems? My problems? Why don’t you just go ahead and google celebrity influence on teenagers today? I’m pretty sure we all know about the effect of extremely skinny models on body-type perception, so why do you choose to ignore these celebrities? I’m not saying they should sit and be covered top to toe in clothes, of course not. I just think even if the ‘body’ is exposed or accentuated because of pride, go ahead but how is confidence like you previously said related to any of the other things, from the previously mentioned statements of how having curves is necessary for women to be women or how her big butt is her biggest pride. And again, re-stating, these aren’t my problems, but problems girls face. Here’s some links with baffling statistics in case you want a read.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2533817/
    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/exclusive-eating-disorders-soar-among-teens–and-social-media-is-to-blame-9085500.html
    And hey, if one seems to know so much about Kim K and how much of a ‘feminist’ she is, my point is why not switch this attention and followers to other people who’ve made a greater impact directly? From Emma Stone to Cate Blanchett to Angelina Jolie. They’re celebrities who flaunt their bodies just the way you seem to think I don’t like; but they don’t go around talking about their bodies as though they’re superior to the women around them. Take a few minutes off just to watch some of Scarlett’s interviews – a woman with curves who’s ‘confident’ and who in my eyes, who’s a true role model. And in case you missed out, scroll back on to the post to see a link I hyperlinked to which I believe will show you to your feminists.
    So you know what?
    I’ve said what I want about these women and I’ve held my personal opinions about them, leaving aside their accomplishments for a while (because if it weren’t for those in the first place, we wouldn’t even know about them) just to focus on how they carry themselves in my point of view. Because again, I was brought up differently. It’s not right or wrong to be entitled to an opinion. In case I offended you or your idols, that was not the intention. And I wish you’d understand the same. That we’re all different.
    And to oppose something you’ve said, there isn’t any whole right or wrong.
    It’s perspective that must be respected.

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