Stir Caused by Beyonce’s Unedited Photos Demonstrates Unrealistic Beauty Norms

Digitally altered photo of Beyonce from her Twitter account

Recently some unedited photos of pop singer Beyonce were leaked online. They were met with much criticism and many fans denied the fact that these photos were real.

The notion that it is easier for scores of Beyonce fans (many of whom are undoubtedly young girls) to believe in the false, digitally-enhanced version of a woman, than in a woman with blemishes and wrinkles, is not surprising. When the vast majority of photos which are released of pop stars and celebrities are digitally altered in order to remove features which clash with our society’s dominant ideology concerning the way women should look, it is to be expected that photographs of Beyonce that have not been altered would be seen as impostors.

When we are constantly bombarded with images of women which are altered in order to fit social norms, the “certain” eventually becomes, the “true” (as philosopher Antonio Gramsci would say). In other words, the ideology we subscribe to and consider to be true, is the ideology with the most power behind it. If the controlling interests of our society (those with money, i.e. the corporations which run our media outlets) show and tell us that successful women (and in this case Beyonce) have no blemishes or wrinkles, then that is what we will believe. Because we live in a mass society rather than a society of publics, we consume this media rather than interacting with it. This dynamic results in our expectation that what is presented to us must necessarily be fact.

As the Beyonce photos have shown, this can cause a lot of damage to the minds of girls. It teaches them that the digital Beyonce-face is attainable, even when presented with the reality of her untouched photos.

Recently leaked unedited photo of Beyonce

Advertisements

God Made Girls by RaeLynn Sends a Terrible Message to Girls and Women

I recently watched the music video for God Made Girls by country singer RaeLynn on Republic Records which peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart (currently at number 17 as of this post). The lyrics of this song are very harmful to women and girls, especially considering the popularity of this track.

The song starts off with some spoken words by singer RaeLynn. She states:

“It’s to be romanced and to reveal beauty and to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure. The heart of every girl longs for these things. It’s what makes us… come alive.”

There are a couple of problems with these statements. The most blatant is the fact that, no, not every girl wants these things.

Taking each purported desire individually, we can see that these statements are obviously not true for all girls.

Does every girl long to “be romanced”? Of course not. Women often desire to romance men, other women, or anyone else. A woman does not necessarily “long” to be romanced just by virtue of her gender.

Does every girl long to “reveal beauty”? OK, what does that even mean? I suppose the most reasonable meaning would be that girls long to reveal beauty in themselves. I guess this one isn’t too bad because RaeLynn could be referring to inner beauty, but beauty in itself is considered a “feminine” attribute and of course some women do not desire to be feminine.

The entire song reinforces socially constructed gender stereotypes about women and implies that these stereotypes are natural with lines like “Somebody’s gotta wear a pretty skirt. Somebody’s gotta be the one to flirt. Somebody’s gotta wanna hold his hand, so God made girls,” implying that “girls” (and women) exist to be with men. The song is full of lines explaining just how women were created to compliment and offer support to men, from giving them a reason to wash their trucks to teaching them how to dance. Does RaeLynn believe that girls are born with some sort of innate knowledge of dancing?

The lyrics also refer to girls as “something” rather than “someone,” as if they are objects for men to own. Almost every lyric in the song is about the ways girls contribute to the lives of men, about how this is the purpose of girls, the reason why “God made” them.

The only positive thing I can say about this video is that the visual imagery is not necessarily objectifying of women’s bodies. There are no close-up shots of RaeLynn’s body parts and no gratuitously revealing clothing. This, however, does not make up for the damaging lyrics.

It is a shame that a song like this is so popular when its lyrics are so harmful to women and so supportive of male supremacy. At least we can take solace in the fact that the more feminist-oriented Girl In a Country Song by Maddie & Tae, which was released around the same time, has performed even higher than RaeLynn’s song on the same charts.