The video “A Girl Like Me” that we watched in class was, in my opinion, very eye-opening and powerful. I remember my vexation years ago to the results of a study similar to the one conducted in the video in which children were asked to choose between two Barbie dolls, one with black skin and one with white skin. Equally as concerning were the accounts from the teenage girls of color in the video of the perceptions society had fed and continues to feed them of their own skin. The reach of Western beauty ideals spans the globe. Skin whitening treatments such as Fair and Lovely abound in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. According to an article by Andrew McDougall, sales growth indicate that, by 2018, the global market for skin lighteners will reach $19.8 billion. Double eyelid surgery is seen as a rite of passage for many East Asians with “single eyelids”. Julie Chen, presenter, news anchor, and producer for CBS, recounted her own experience with the surgery, which she eventually underwent after repeatedly being told by agents and higher-ups that she could not hope to have a successful career without it. The dominant group uses media to reproduce the image of the “beauty ideal”, and society teaches people around the world to try in vain to become that ideal, no matter how impossible it may be to attain. The idea that society’s perception of beauty is unquestionably accepted by the vast majority is so strange; how is it possible for the ideals of such a small fraction of the population to permeate so fully the minds of people everywhere? And yet so few are able to stand back and question these “ideals”. When used for something as poisonous as this large-scale manipulation, the power of media is truly frightening.

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2 responses »

  1. cassidy says:

    I thought the use of youth voices in the piece, “A Girl Like Me”, was really effective! The women and girls interviewed were articulate and personal, and their voices I think would attract a much wider audience than a traditionally academic approach/video. Part of what I think makes the piece so effective is her use of the personal – “a girl like ME”. You mention how strange it is that racist beauty ideals are so widely and unquestioningly accepted, and I agree! I think this has to do with isolation within media. The idea that “if no one else is saying anything against these racist ideals, maybe I’M the odd one out for thinking they’re terrible”. I think Kiri Davis then does a great job in “A Girl Like Me” in combatting this.

  2. chloekissane says:

    I remember watching “A Girl Like Me” in my African American Psychology class a few years ago. The interviews with the young teenage girls were very interesting as some of them explained how some of their friends would go to extremes to change their appearance. Additionally, the recreation of the doll experiment was heartbreaking. These children are so young and they have already been to exposed to discrimination in our society.

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