I have a brain and personality, too!

After talking about John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, I was inspired to create a Pinterest board relating to women in media, whether that be radio, film, from a journalistic standpoint, or other forms. What I found was a little disheartening, especially as a young woman pursuing a career in the radio field someday.

The more I think about the points Berger outlined in both his video series and in his book, the more I analyze my life and my experiences as a woman in society. I’m going to be flat-out honest here, and I hope it does not come across as conceited. Because trust me, when girls say, “Everybody is staring at me!,” I am aware of how self-centered and egotistic that sounds. I mean, c’mon… nobody is that great, am I right? Back in high school, I was known as “the cute girl” who was best friends with the two “hot girls.” Kim and Andrea got all of the attention, and I was typically just an asterisk, a sidebar, an afterthought. While there were times that I admit this bothered me, I was generally very ok with being that person. When guys liked me, it was because they got to know me, and my personality and sense of humor tended to be my “it” factor. And then it came time to transition into college. I can still remember the day I sat in my Comp101 professor’s office as we perused my latest paper for high and low points. She asked me how life was otherwise. People here had a tendency to worry about me, being so far away from home and all. And while I might have thought I gave off a cool and collected vibe, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t fooling anyone. I was missing home, and I was struggling. Not in the academic aspect but in the social. Part of me wanted to look at Dr. Duffus straight in the eyes and tell her I was fine – I was fine, but I was dealing with a lot at the same time – but a bigger part of me decided to open up. “Honestly, I’m having a hard time,” I told her. I explained how life was back in high school, how I had my place, my stereotype, my name tag. And then I opened up about the two months that made up my current college experience: “They call me ‘the hot Idaho girl.’ I feel like I can’t go anywhere without someone staring at me. Or giving me a ‘once-over.’ Like the only thing that matters is my looks, like I’m a piece of meat.” As an ex-model and feeder-pageant girl, I knew the emphasis that was often placed in this department. Dr. Duffus and I concluded our conversation with an idea: “You need to get a t-shirt: I have a personality and brains, too!” While the thought was nice, she and I both acknowledged that this would probably only worsen my issue, but I appreciated her concern. It’s funny, because I used to love getting dressed up. Not so much for other people, but for myself. When I’ve straightened my hair, applied my typically-minimal amount of makeup, and put on something cute, I feel more prepared for whatever the day has ahead. I have more confidence: my head held high, my shoulders back, a spring in my step, and a sway in my walk. And yet, this was part of my downfall. Friends would get upset when I would have to fix my hair, touch up my foundation, apply a new coat of lip gloss before heading out the door, even though I did those things just minutes before. True, it might be part of my organized, OCD-like nature, but a part of me obsesses about things being out of place or smeared. And it’s sad. There was a joke my roommate and her boyfriend had during our Freshman year. And while I couldn’t tell you how it started, it was a big part of our lives together. One of them would give me a long string of compliments, “pretty” being mixed in there, and when they finished, I would say, “You think I’m pretty?” and completely neglect all of the other attributes they pointed out. It happened once, and it became a theme. And while at the time, it didn’t seem harmful, in retrospect, I realize I was contributing to social objectification. …and maybe, just maybe… I found my passion and the thing  I can make my visual argument and final project about?