This Blog is for the journaling of my college life, starting in fall of 2007. The blog that precedes this blog is "The Formal Operational Stage of Life" which is about my high school life. If you want to read that one, you are more than welcome to see the link that is available on my personal profile page. To those of you who read my "College Student" blog, I hope that you enjoy reading it. Lots of Love, Always ~Holly Elizabeth
My paper and media collages as originally submitted on January 10, 2010,
with an all inclusive collage at the conclusion.
There are so many different ways that I could have approached the topics of what it is to be “normal,” and what it is to be “disabled.” I decided to reflect upon society since it is society who responds to media in regards of normality and disability. It is also society who influences community, and culture, which then leads to the environmental influences upon a person’s schema of various topics and ideas.
I chose to do my media collage before starting this thought paper. I believed it would expand the probably-small schema I had about normality and disability, and, in a way, it has. As I did various searches I began to understand the way society perceives both normalcy and disability. While Internet searches are not scholarly, I justified it because the majority of Americans have access to the Internet as well as access to sites where they can contribute their opinions and ideas.
While my searches gave me a different sort of understanding, I became frustrated with the top items that would come up in the search – especially when I used the search term, “disability.” It seems like the most common idea of disability seems to be someone who is wheelchair-bound. I was frustrated with this because, while my understanding of disability is not a full one, I know that there are other types of disabilities – whether they be mental or physical – and obviously there is a lack of media representation of those various disabilities.
I was even frustrated with my search results for, “normal.” I had to add words for more specificity since it was too broad of a term. So when I added, “man,” or “woman,” to the search, I found that the majority of top hits were semi-famous people who were described as being “just a normal man,” or “just a normal woman,” for whatever purpose it served. These results for “normal” people were frustrating because it showed photos of people that are digitally retouched and photoshopped – they are probably as far away from the societal norm as someone who is labeled as being disabled.
What does “normal” mean? “Normal” is defined as a way of “conforming to a standard,” or in the way of describing a person, it is someone who is, “free from physical or mental disorders.” (Oxford American Dictionaries) When someone says they are normal, when someone says their child is normal, I believe it is a label – a way to safeguard themselves, and their offspring against societal criticism and disparagement. While socially safeguarding themselves, I believe it also allows the “normal” speakers the opportunity to believe it for themselves, as illogical as it may be.
Definitions aside, I must recognize that as “politically correct” as terms can be, there is nothing “politically correct” about the way people with recognizable disabilities are treated by others. From my experience with the word, “disability,” doesn’t seem to be a word that a person would voluntarily use when describing him self. I think it’s more of a word used as a label by others, usually it is the “politically correct,” way to describe a person who has “a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities.” (Oxford American Dictionaries) I suppose that when a person does use the term, especially when parents use it when describing their child, that it is a form of acceptance of oneself, for one’s child, and it is a way to acknowledge a person’s problems while marking one’s individuality.
I was browsing through TV this morning, and happened upon "Home Delivery." The show is about these "life-changing" events that the show generously provides as their form of entertainment. This particular episode was about this woman who had immigrated to New York City from Russia. She was employed as a cab driver in NYC and had an American boyfriend. Now, I don't know who initiated her "Home Delivery," but I was upset with her makeover.
Her "before" picture was completely fine, she is a cutie, modest style and humble appearance. There is nothing wrong with that. Her "after" appearance seemed to be more focused on looking sexy and seductive. All of the men hooted and clapped their approval upon seeing her, which, in my opinion, is objectifying her.
The words" gorgeous," and "beautiful" were common upon response to her appearance. Which is awesome, don't get me wrong. But, what is this telling this young woman from Russia? Did it tell her that she is only beautiful when she is made up to look all sensual and sexy? Did it tell her that beauty only comes from the outside - from the way she looks?
What happened to uniqueness? Individuality? Originality? Personality? Inner beauty? Self esteem? Why is it that we must turn to America's media to be told how to assimilate into what is acceptable and considered beautiful?
I find it frustrating to know women are so oppressed and pressured by the media, consistently and subtly being forced to assimilate to what is considered "beautiful."
I think it's OK to do things for yourself to help you feel good about yourself, but if you don't have a knowledge of your own inner beauty and self esteem, then what good is fashion, makeup and fancy hair?
I don't know, I just feel really frustrated with this concept of bettering people's lives by making them look better...