Media Magazine

The Link Between Beauty, Privilege and the Media

Posted on the 23 February 2011 by Juliez
the link between beauty and privilege

the link between beauty and privilege

We don’t live in a vacuum. Our ideas, our lexicon, and our beliefs are shaped by outside forces like society, culture, environment, and religion. Fields like sociology and anthropology prove that.

Words matter. You said something heterosexist because your parents / the media / your religion told you; you weren’t born a bigot. Forces like that reflect and shape your ideas. When people, especially celebrities, say transphobic things they fuel transphobia and other people think it is ok because their ideas aren’t challenged. Their bigotry is reinforced every day by outside forces like that. We are conditioned to say things that hurt other people, but we don’t change it because it seems like it doesn’t affect your reality.

That’s where privilege comes from. If the dominant culture constantly puts out ideas that reinforce your idea of reality you accept it as such without question because you consider that the norm. You will vehemently defend your privilege and the entitlements you enjoy because you can’t honestly believe another person’s reality is different from your own. You think you’re a good person; anything that happens to other people is the fault of their own.

Just because you aren’t aware of what is happening doesn’t mean it isn’t occurring.

The bottom line is the idea that “it’s just a preference” ignores how factors like racism, sexism and transphobia shape your ideal of what is beautiful or considered attractive.

Whenever I tell people this they get super upset and deny that this is true. People just think that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” but if most of the media features middle to upper class, white, thin, able-bodied, cisgender, straight people wouldn’t that shape your idea of beauty? Pop culture is extremely important to us. Of course it will shape how we think.

But there is a lack of diversity in the media and if marginalized groups are in television or movies, it is mostly to be a stock character.

And I don’t want to make it seem like people with privilege aren’t aware of their privileges or entitlements. They know and they will fight for it at all costs. One tacit is acting ignorant or crying political correctness.

For a cheap joke a late night comedian will attacks trans-women’s femininity; a TV show will feature male characters joking around about their shrew-like wives and make sexist degrading comments about women’s bodies; a movie will feature a wise talking sassy black woman with little education etc. etc. repeat this 3 million times across every medium. Yet, people have the audacity to act like pop culture or religion doesn’t affect what we consider to be true.

Anyways, “it’s just a preference” really isn’t just a preference. Saying you don’t like black men or fat people or whatever was obviously shaped by some force.


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