TheMoreYouSubtract

TheMoreYouSubtract - The More You Subtract, The More You...

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The More You Subtract, The More You Add Cutting Girls Down to Size by Jean Kilborne WHEN I WAS SIXTEEN, LIKE ALMOST EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD, I FELL wildly in love for the first time. My feelings were so intense that now, decades later, I still dream about him from time to time. He was good for me in every way, but I also began a sinister love affair around the same time, one that nearly consumed me—my love affair with alcohol and cigarettes. As adults in a toxic culture, some of us fall in love with cars or chocolate cake or, more dangerously, drugs. But, just as we are more vulnerable to the glory and heartbreak of romantic love than we will ever be again, at no time are we more vulnerable to the seductive power of advertising and of addiction than we are in adolescence. Adolescents are new and inexperienced consumers—and such prime targets. They are in the process of learning their values and roles and developing their self-concepts. Most teenagers are sensitive to peer pressure and find it difficult to resist or even to question the dominant cultural messages perpetuated and reinforced by the media. Mass communication has made possible a kind of national peer pressure that erodes private and individual values and standards, as well as community values and standards. As Margaret Mead once said, today our children are not brought up by parents, they are brought up by the mass media. Advertisers are aware of their role and do not hesitate to take advantage of the insecurities and anxieties of young people, usually in the guise of offering solutions. A cigarette provides a symbol of independence. A pair of designer jeans or sneakers convey status. The right perfume or beer resolves doubts about femininity or masculinity. All young people are vulnerable to these messages and adolescence is a difficult time for most people, perhaps especially these days. According to the Carnegie Corporation, “Nearly half of all American adolescents are at high or moderate risk of seriously damaging their life chances.” But there is a particular kind of suffering in our culture that afflicts girls. As most of us know so well by now, when a girl enters adolescence, she faces a series of losses—loss of self-confidence, loss of a sense of efficacy and ambition, and the loss of her “voice,” the sense of being a unique and powerful self that she had in childhood. Girls who were active, confident, feisty at the ages of eight and nine and ten often become hesitant, insecure, self-doubting at eleven. Their self-esteem plummets. As Carol Gilligan, Mary Pipher and other social critics and psychologists have pointed out in recent years, adolescent girls in America are afflicted with a range of problems, including low self- esteem, eating disorders, binge drinking, date rape and other dating violence, teen pregnancy, and a rise in cigarette smoking. Teenage women today are engaging in far riskier health behavior in greater numbers than any prior generation. The gap between boys and girls is closing, but this is not always for the best.
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This note was uploaded on 02/20/2011 for the course WGS 100 taught by Professor Laura during the Spring '11 term at CUNY Hunter.

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TheMoreYouSubtract - The More You Subtract, The More You...

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