Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Subtle Stereotypes

Since my recent epiphanies of self-knowledge, I’ve been listening to a selection of fairly soppy pop songs on the subject of self-belief, self-actualisation and generally moving forward. And I noticed that when the songs are sung by women, the message, subtly or overtly, is almost always that the point of all this esteem-building is to be capable of finding or attracting love. I was surprised and concerned to realise this, for two reasons.

Firstly, some of the most messed-up people I know, with the lowest self-esteem and worst attitudes, are in what they consider to be great, true-love relationships; some are even married, despite the terrible way they treat themselves (and sometimes others as well). So clearly a healthy mental attitude to oneself is not a prerequisite to achieving a relationship or even to being happy with that relationship. So why is popular culture selling women the idea that we can’t be attractive if our soul is a little knocked around?

And secondly, why the hell is finding love the point of positive self-belief anyway?! Surely it’s an end in itself, something to be celebrated as an achievement not as a stepping-stone to something else? Not that I’m against thinking about a good relationship as something to aim for, but as far as I can see it shouldn’t be the driving force behind getting to know and understand yourself and facing down your demons. Isn’t being happy a good enough reason to do that?

I have no answers to either of these, but the whole thing is concerning. It seems to me that while today the forces of evil are calories and low self-esteem – rather than wicked witches and cruel stepmothers – we’re still all being trained to see that Prince Charming is the reason why we’re fighting. And that’s not right at all.



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