Teaspoon of Happy More Ways We Need to Evolve Already Sarah May Bates

Thanks for helping out us ladies, "Bridezillas"

I am happy to see more accurate portrayals of culture in mainstream media every single day, but I have to call out a few that seem to stick around that definitely need to go. Not because they’re ‘manufacturing consent’ or oppressing the helpless consumers, but because they are just plain ridiculous.

Thank God for blond hair in "Tangled"

Blond = Better
I know there are actual historical reasons that blondness became a symbol for goodness and or better breeding but frankly, they are dumb. We need to make it official. Blond is not better. It just is. And it is as good as brown, black, red, grey, silver, white and calico. (And anything else you want to add to the human hair spectrum.) Not sure who reinforced this in pop culture but I’ll throw a thanks to Baywatch. You can go home now. It was fun to have you but I believe your sitter has to leave by 11. Tan is not better, either. In fact, the whitest kind of pale is super gorgie, especially when paired with red lipstick. (I only call out pale white because it’s the group victimized most by this all-hail-the-tan trend but all colors are great.) I dyed my hair blond when I was in college and I looked like (kids, cover your ears) a cheap prostitute.  It’s because I’m Korean and I have an olive complexion, so the blondness made me look like I was bad a generic brand Barbie. You were born a color and you look best that color and if you don’t see it that way, maybe you’ve got to spend some time with it for a while. I know I had to.

King of Queens

I love

Fat Husband / Hot Wife

This stereotype astounds me every day. I know it is to appeal to those who might like to imagine themselves in the place of said man, but it’s about time to let this one go. Why can’t we try a large funny girl with a svelte hot husband? Or better yet, why can’t we have all different shaped people together all the time? The fat-husband-hot-wife duo is getting monotonous and it’s not super exciting to watch if you happen to be a girl. It’s also sending a message to us girls to “settle” for anyone that even remotely tries.

The bros of The Hangover

The better life in Change-Up

Guys that Want to Escape Their Wives and Families

This is a joke that gets told over and over again in beer commercials and adult comedies. There’s always a guy that wants to squeeze boobs, drink beer and be gross and his lame girlfriend is trying to make him marry her or talking to him too much. Then comedy ensues. I don’t know any couples in this unfortunate situation but the joke construct must derive from somewhere. Can we thank Cathy cartoons? Ally McBeal? Who knows. All it does to portray people like this on-screen today is make men think that they should be plotting an escape from commitment of any kind. I, for one, would like to see more of the happy best friend couples portrayed or perhaps the girl with an overly emotional, clingy boyfriend.

The "sad ugly" brown haired girl in "Something Borrowed"

Fat Skinny People or Ugly Pretty People
I see people in movies or commercials for girly foods that are meant to be “fat” or “ugly” and in fact they are played by people that are super thin and gorgeous. This annoys – and more importantly, confuses – me because based on this fact, the story no longer makes sense. What it does do is make me assume that I should think that that person is fat and therefore I am fat and did not realize it. I see this communicated in other areas, not just weight. There is a tendency to show men and women that are 20 years younger than the age that they are portraying on film, as well as people of color that are decidedly “whiter” than people of color that you might have in your life. This watering down of reality is bizarre and without reason. We live in the world, we see the people in it; what are we gaining by misrepresenting reality? (Directed to no one in particular in the cultural ethos.)

If only Jennifer Aniston could marry Adam Sandler in "Just Go With It"

Girls With No Other Goal in Life Than Getting the Guy
I know this is based on real life but not to the degree that we see it on film. Can’t we tell a new version of the story with a girl that’s career-driven over guy-driven? It’s more often that a girl will like a guy and then find out he’s a total player and redirect her attentions to her job and spend her time hanging out with her girls. A lot of girls don’t care about getting married and finding Mr. Right, and that’s totally fine and good and real. Let’s find a new story about a girl that doesn’t want the proposal at the end of the movie. Or maybe she decides being successful is the most awesome thing in her life.

A screenshot of the stars currently on "The CW"

Sameness
I take this note from Bossypants but it’s something I have thought about and feel strongly about as well. There are so many people in mainstream culture that look exactly the same. They are chosen because they look like rich models or something, but what this sameness looks like to me is humanity de-sexed. The generalizing of beauty makes people feel like blow-up dolls or a Final Fantasy rendering of a “human”.  Without diversity and flaws it’s like watching a hologram instead of a person. Oh – wait, that’s already a thing I guess.

Hatsune Miku performing to a sold out crowd in Japan

Looking onward and upward and loving the changes in so many areas of mainstream media. Wanting more of the colors and textures of reality in film and TV so that we can all feel connected to the storytelling. As always, please share any stories you have of your own! xo Sarah

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  1. This is such an awesome post with great examples to accompany your points. Well done! And you’re right, we do need to evolve more, already! Gosh!!

  2. You know what really grinds my gears about the “Something Borrowed” image you showed (I know it is just one of many, but hear me) in the BOOK they are both brunettes – in fact being a brunette and fabulously curvy is what is most talked about when referencing the character a BLOND and waif Kate Hudson would later play, so we can what? Tell the difference? So silly. The thing that drives me crazy about the fat husband/ hot wife isn’t the looks so much as the attitude of the husband, like he is a big dumb animal, and she basically has to mother him. How about some intelligent couples of whatever size?

  3. Thank you Thank you THANK YOU! This post rocks my face off! I’m a confidant non-skinny, dark hair, 5’2″ kinda girl with short everything, arms(t-rex arms), legs, torso…the whole shabang! I have to say I am awesome in that I don’t fit in to the mainstream view of what is beautiful, because my beauty never changes it’s always in style to me. I wish more girls could see themselves like this and ignore pop culture. I am the big girl that gets the hot guys..they are hot because I say they’re hot, sometimes people agree sometimes they don’t, doesn’t matter, if he’s hot to me then it’s all good!

    • LOL – rocks your face off- awesome! That is a fantastic post to read!! Thanks for the comment – you’ve given me a jolt of energy!!

  4. The fat guy and gorgeous wife one is the one that bugs me the most, because while I like that it encourages women to care more about personality than looks, it still encourages men to care about the looks more than personality. Where’s the movie about the plain Jane who gets to STAY a plain Jane and still get the smoking hottie? And I mean an actual plain Jane, not Mandy Moore with bangs.

    Becca Sands | 8/21/2011 03:08 pm
    • I KNOW ! So not fair!! I feel like most guys are with girls that they do not in any way compare to. It’s so uneven. Yeah right?! If there was a plain Jane it would be friggin Angelina Jolie with a wig.

  5. Thank you! I feel like you went inside my brain and wrote my thoughts and feelings. I love your posts, Sarah!

    PS: count me in the Brunette Club.

  6. Totally agree with you Sarah, especially the fat guy+beautiful slender wife stereotype, that REALLY bugs me! Hope it gets stamped out over time and replaced with more interesting combos. Also the reality TV phenomenon which makes millionaires out of undeserving ‘celebrities’! Perhaps if we all boycotted this garbage, it would peter out???

  7. I feel the exact same way. Especially the fat husband hot wife. Why can’t a BBW have a hot husband? Or better yet, why can’t we see gorgeous BBW’s and Husky men together? I think I will keep following this blog :) Found it threw Zooey Deschanel.

  8. great post, i’m glad to see that im not the only girl who thinks and feels these things when i watch movies. this is why i love this website so much…you make me feel normal.

  9. It doesn’t help that the media is covering that damn Kardashian wedding like crazy. Why does anyone care about that? I still don’t even really know what the Kardashian people do. I know they have some sort of reality show. I never bothered watching it, as I don’t like supporting stupid, spoiled, rich kids in their endeavors to become richer and famous. Why not support talented folks (which writers should get paid more, by the way and actors less…which reminds me, what’s with Christina Aguilera’s $250,000 per-episode pay on The Voice, compared to the $75,000 for the other coaches?).

  10. I’m so glad you wrote this.
    More on Bridezillas- that show ought to be cancelled! They are perpetuating the message that weddings have to be big and flashy and that the bride should feel like a ‘princess.’ They always yell, “This is MY DAY and it has to be PERFECT!” If your wedding is “your day,” then whose days will the rest be?

  11. This post describes everything I always complain about! I want her hair to stay brown and skin to stay pale, but she’s always striving to replicate an image that isn’t as beautiful as she just is without trying so much. I would like to see more realism because it’s sad that we value all these fake people that – as you said – no one should care about at all.

  12. Added note: As a teenager, my biggest pet peeves are shows and movies displaying The Teenage Lifestyle. I wish MTV would understand that we do not all speak in acronyms, we are not constantly throwing crazy hot tub parties, we are not obsessed with being popular or those that already are, and we do not all look like we’re in our twenties and thirties. *le sigh*

  13. Thank you for making this post. Sometimes I feel crazy expressing my concerns about the false reality that television enforces because no one else seems to understand how it debilitates our culture and distorts our perception of other individuals. Inga Muscio sums up my feelings well in her book “C**t: A Declaration of Independence”:

    “…I do not have a teevee deadening my brain, making me feel like things that are completely unacceptable are somehow okey-dokey.

    It is not okay to pigeonhole, stereotype and tokenize people of color, but the teevee does it all the f*cking time.

    It is not okay to normalize whiteness or heterosexuality.

    It is not okay to glorify the insignificant lives of people the teevee insists are important celebrities.

    It is not okay that the teevee pays Jennifer Aniston more money for filming one episode of Friends than a sixth grade teacher will see in her entire career.

    It is not okay to objectify all women, exoticize women of color and present transgendered people as caricatures, if at all.”

    In reality, we cannot just give up on television because too many shows promote negative stereotypes and false images of people. With television’s precedence in our culture, we should instead work hard to support shows that are much more realistic and diverse. Again, awesome post! :)

  14. I so agree with you, especially in regards to the ‘fat skinny girl’ thing. I recently went through a significant weight loss, and it took me a very long time, and a lot of hard work. Seeing movies and tv shows, where someone is considered ‘fat’ yet they are the same size as me confuses me, and actually, in some ways, hurts my feelings. People of all shapes and sizes should be celebrated, and not singled-out or mocked. I’d actually also love people to stop talking about Christina Hendricks and her body. If people really LOVED her body type, there would be more actresses out there with it. Instead, she’s the exception to the rule, and as beautiful as she is (we all know she is!), they’re making her an example, yet the public at large really doesn’t want to see that kind of body type on their tv and movie screens!

    As always, Sara, great essay!

    • I totally agree with this. It’s reminds me of that bit on the first SATC film where Samantha comes back to NYC after breaking up with Smith (I think?) and all the other girls are shocked because of how much weight she’s put on. FFS!

    • Dude seriously! I’m always watching yogurt commercials like “uhhhh sorry what diet are you doing?” Thanks for the comment :) x

  15. I whole-heartedly agree with you. Have you seen The Nines? It has Ryan Reynolds and Melissa McCarthy married, which is AWESOME. We need more real-life situations in media. And this is something we also see in The Help. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but Skeeter values her work, her writing, more than anything else, including getting married. Check out this site for super-awesomeness with females in the media: http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/ And the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is doing some great work and trying to work with the government in creating more equal roles and less focus on traditional gender role. Awesome, awesome, awesome post!

  16. An easy solution is to just stop watching shitty tv shows. There’s good shit out there if you know where to look.

  17. i completely agree with this, however, as somebody who is trying to make it in the UK TV and Film industry i find that whenever i find a short or a script which accurately depict civilisation i will be slated for “blandness” or ironically enough not being real enough…. unless you count “British Grit” which is surprisingly enough, not how we all live.

    • I am intrigued!! When your show blows up and knocks Bridezillas off the air please share it! I am all for drama but sometimes it gets to be sickening.. I hope your show finds the new angle on humanity that can magically do both! Thanks for the posting :)
      Sarah

  18. I understand about the messages being sent out but I would truly hope that “us girls” aka women would actually not base our self worth on television role models of any kind.

    • I hope so too, and I definitely don’t but I had to get there as an adult. I fear for the youngin’s Susan. They are impressionable and manipulated by the loud speaker that is the mainstream.

  19. I have been feeling this way about ‘reality’ tv as well. None of those people are real, they are chosen because they are unbalanced and are given carte blanch to act like a**holes on tv and be overly dramatic. Too many people (Kardashians, Kate, Octomom, those people with like 30 kids) are famous for no reason. They have not contributed in anyway to society other than having been born to rich parents. They have no talent (act, sing, dance) that would be a reason to be on tv. At any other time in the history of tv, they would not have been known at all. So yeah, I agree, there should be more diversity on tv and more real realism as well. Mike and Molly is adorable, still not all the way there as there is a lot of dialogue about their weight, but its a step in the right direction. And im sorry but the rest of the cast is hilarious as well. Her mom and sister on the show crack me up :)

    • Girl, you seriously could have written this post! I feel exactly the same way, people are famous for the wrong reasons these days and it sends out a message to all us girls. Thanks for the comment!!! Xo Sarah

  20. Ya! very ignorance is bliss, Aunt Goldeen always said that…

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