January 21, 2010

Cover Girls

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The controversy this past week about the Magic Under Glass cover got me thinking. I'm not going to focus on the race issue because there are plenty of posts on that already and what do I know about it anyway. I'm going to take out my Mom Hat for this one, because I'm not just a reader, I'm a Mom too.

I've read the comments popping up on the related posts here and there and one comment really struck a nerve. A young bi-racial woman said she wouldn't have read Magic Under Glass with a darker girl on the cover because she'd assume the book was about 'issues'. This gave me pause. I wouldn't get upset with this girl; she's just giving her honest opinion. But how have we gotten here? How is it that when a young woman looks at a cover with a person of colour (someone who looks more like herself) she assumes the book is about issues? (Same could be said for a heavier girl too.) Not just a book about an average girl with average problems.

Then we have Heidi Montag who landed on the cover of People magazine. Why? No, she didn't save a busload of nuns from a fiery death. She wasn't the first woman on Mars. She hasn't cured cancer. She had 10 procedures that have made her look closer to a Barbie doll. That is how she got on the cover of People magazine.

I don't have a problem with plastic surgery. If I could afford it, I'd have a few things done. If it makes you happy, why not? But Heidi Montag is 23 years old! What could possibly be wrong with her that she needed 10 procedures after already having surgery a few years ago? Why does she want to look so artificial? It makes me very sad. What makes me even sadder is this is how she made it onto a magazine cover. How messed up is that?

No wonder girls think the way they do when this is the kind of crap they see everyday. Publishers say that this is what people want to see on the covers of books and magazines. That's a chicken and egg argument. Is it what people want to see? Or do people think they want to see that because they have been programmed to think it is? Maybe if girls saw some diversity on those covers, they wouldn't be running out to get those surgeries. They'd see that it's okay look like yourself. That there is nothing wrong with you if you don't have the perfect nose or long blond hair. Being an individual and not just another wannabe is who you should be. Afterall Barbie is a plastic doll manufactured in a plant, not an actual person.

I haven't read Uglies yet but maybe Scott Westerfeld has something there. I predict that in the future there will be no cover controversies because everyone will look the same anyway.

Photo: http://www.vierdrie.nl/


  1. That was one of the reason I loved Uglies -- because Westerfield was SO spot-on with this whole sameness trend towards beauty that our culture (is it just the US, or all Western cultures?) is heading towards. It's wrong. It's bad. And I've got four girls that have to deal with it. All I can do is hope that I tell them I love them the way *they are* enough and don't stress the details (like eating habits!). I don't know if it's enough... but it's all I can do in the face of the media barrage. (I hadn't seen the magazine before your link, but I clicked through. Seriously? She wants breasts that big? Why?)

  2. Our society is definitely giving girls the wrong message. How many 23 year old men do you see having 10 procedures to try to look perfect. It's very sad.

  3. Melissa- I'm in Canada and we're heavily influenced by Hollywood ourselves. It's really tough to avoid it. And yeah, those boobs are ridiculously large!

    Kathy- Exactly. Her husband Spencer wasn't having 10 surgeries.

  4. Heidi is the poster child for low self-esteem. Setting aside for a second the fact that she has no brain in that head---something surgery can't fix--she was actually a pretty girl before she had any surgery done. She didn't get plastic surgery b/c her face was wrinkly and she wanted to look young again---something I can understand. No, she wanted to be "prettier". And at such standard that was set FOR her not BY her.

    These standards are underlying problem. We (I'm talking specifically about Americans because that's my field of reference) are all trained, regardless of our skin color, to look up to one type of body image. So when marketing departments make these decisions, what are they really pandering to? This whole racist cover scandal runs so much deeper than a marketing department inadvertently showing their prejudices. It has to do with how we fundamentally view attraction in this country. That's why I think you've hit the nail and why a boycott is really beside the point.

  5. Laza- I totally agree that standard was set for her not by her. She had said she wanted to look like a "Nordic goddess". What percentage of the population actually fits that description? Who set that as the standard for beauty? In the past, that standard has been unattainable but now with surgery girls think it's something that can be bought. "I don't like my chest, but I'll save up and buy some boobs." Instead of accepting themselves for themselves and growing into their skins, they plan for the day they can magically have what they think they want.

  6. Your question is so right. I would be perfectly fine seeing someone with a more curvaceous body on covers of magazines and books. And not "curvaceous" meaning a size six...

  7. hmm...this is quite an sensitive issue. But peoples who have this narrow mind always like that, isn't it? In my religions, all human being are created in perfect shape. But your heart will alter the shape and it will become imperfect. Sad...very sad....


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  9. When my five-year-old looks at herself in the mirror wearing her leotard before ballet class and announces that she is too fat, we as a society have a problem. I love the questions you raise and wish more would discuss this very topic.

  10. Aarti- I don't know how some of them can be so small without health issues.

    cj'alhafiz- It is a very sensitive issue especially for young girls growing up surrounded by these images everyday.

    Michelle- Isn't it ridiculous? My 7 yr old doesn't like wearing snowpants because they 'make her look fat.' It makes me so mad! They're snowpants!

  11. I saw an entire Heidi M. gave yesterday. First of all, that girl is just downright bat-sh*t crazy. Period. It's just sad.

    If you want to read a good YA book about beauty inside and out, check out Justine Chen Headley's North of Beautiful. I read it last year and thought it was fantastic, especially for young girls.

  12. oh that magazine cover is depressing. Good issues you raise here.

  13. I hadn't heard of Heidi Montag, but Oh. My. God. that is insane. This was a really great post, I like the issues you brought up.

  14. Stephanie- I've heard good things about that one. I'll have to check it out.

    Rebecca- It is, isn't it? Makes you wonder at how low People can go.

    Jen- I barely pay attention to her but this was such a hot topic lately.

  15. You Go Mom! Well said. I agree and thanks for mentioning Uglies. I still haven't found time to read Westerfield, maybe I should. I'll put Uglies on my TBR list, near the top.

    I can't believe that woman got on People magazine for what she did.

  16. I loved Uglies and Scott Westerfeld's commentary on our society! I also loved your post - so much so that I've shared it on my Facebook page. Thanks for writing about such an important topic!

  17. Callista- I really must read it too.

    Allison- Thank you so much!


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