Kill Your TV

Posted: March 9, 2012 in General
Tags: , , , , , ,

Myndi Shaffer wrote up a wonderful post about Barbie and her influences on little girls. Everyone knows the fact that Barbie’s dimensions are beyond unrealistic – so much so that Barbie would be anorexic if she were real. But Myndi had a good point:. Barbie has taught us about fashion and dressing up and just being a GIRL. I love that message. Rock on.

However, one of the facts she posted about Barbie really caught my attention:  *Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” with directions inside stating simply “Don’t eat.”

Um, WHAT? In my mind that is absolutely disgusting. Not funny at all. (Was it meant to be?)

I commented on her blog with my reaction, but I didn’t want to stop there. I started to get agitated, and then I got angry. This definitely required a blog post.

I grew up playing with Barbie. I also grew up playing with cars in the dirt. I flopped between tomboy and regular girl, comfortable in both spheres. I’m still that way. I never, ever gave a second thought to what Barbie looked like and if I should try to imitate her size. You know what made me doubt my image?


Here’s a challenge for you. Sit down and watch just one hour of TV. Count all of the commercials geared toward women and see how many compare to those that are just general advertisements. You want some extra credit? Take a look at how men are portrayed in most commercials compared to women.

Who wants wrinkles? Those unnatural little beasts. Look twenty when you’re really seventy-five!

Guys will love you more if you have longer, fuller eyelashes.

Hate your muffin top? Don’t bother buying new jeans that ACTUALLY fit! All you need is bone crushing spanks. Bonus points if they’re so tight you lose your appetite!

I mean, REALLY. How ridiculous does that sound when you think about it? And I’m not bashing on makeup or creams or shapers (goodness knows I could use that last one). And I’m definitely not bashing on Myndi’s post, because it’s beautiful and wonderful and perfect. (Seriously, go read it. And take part in her little picture submission thing.)

What I’m bashing on is television.

It’s unfortunate, but kids learn a lot from TV and movies. I know I did. I was lucky enough, though, that my parents instilled a lot of good qualities and morals in me. I could watch R-rated movies and not bat an eye. They never affected me because I knew that was not reality and that I wasn’t allowed to do those things (ie. sex, drugs, swearing, violently murdering the cat, etc., etc.).

No wonder girls these days have a complex. Our society is obsessed with body image. And it hurts everyone. It hurts the girl, physically. It hurts the parents when they think they did something wrong. It hurts the little sister that wants to emulate her older sibling. It hurts the husband who can’t help his wife. It hurts the daughter who thinks that living an obsessive lifestyle is normal.

But this goes way beyond just us girls and our body image. I often find myself being surprised when a married couple has a healthy relationship with their spouse. That’s such a sad reaction, in my eyes. Yes, divorce rates are through the roof right now, but why should we assume that all relationships are terrible? Oh, that’s right. We have things like The Bachelor and Jersey Shore to show us what “real” relationships are like. Kids, teens, and young adults (and unfortunately some “mature” adults) think these situations are real or normal. If they become accustomed to that way of thinking, they’re going to start to emulate it whether they realize it or not.

Isn’t it time we took the garbage off the air? I think it has had its fifteen minutes of fame.

I had a teacher in high school who had a sticker on the front of his desk that read, “Kill Your TV.” One day he explained why he had it. He said that he was walking through the mall with his young son when he saw a friend of his – a Muslim friend. The guy was dressed traditionally and was wearing a turban. They chatted for a few minutes and then parted ways. My teacher’s son tugged on his father’s shirt sleeve and said:

“Daddy, airplanes.”

Yes. Go kill your TV.

  1. ddog13 says:

    Very aggressive title. Haha. But I completely agree. I know that you’re familiar with Idol, so here’s an example we could relate to. Kristin Bowersox (excuse the likely misspelling) Through the competition, her teeth were very…yellow. Once it got to the Final 10, she had moviestar teeth. Everyone on TV, whether part of the network or not, has to look perfect. This may be a weak example, but it ties into what you’re saying. Jersey Shore is one of the few scraps of garbage in the garbage can we call television. A lot of stuff nowadays is trash with no value

    • Karen Rought says:

      No, that is a good example. Look at Susan Boyle, too. One of the best things about her was that she was – sorry to be blunt – old and looked like a country bumpkin. She still looks like herself, but she’s definitely been “improved” according to Hollywood’s standards. And, you know, there really isn’t anything wrong with that, except when they cross the line and make women (or people in general) look unnatural and unhealthy and call it “normal.”

  2. Agreed. We don’t have cable, which has helped tremendously. The only things the kids can watch at home are DVDs and PBS.

  3. Karin says:

    I like your post.
    You know what I find disturbing? When parents gift a set of boobs to their daughter for graduating high school. Is the key to college hidden in the silicone?
    It’s a terrible message to give to a young woman.
    By the way – we haven’t owned a TV since 2010. And my daughter will be three in April. She won’t be getting boobs.

    • Karen Rought says:

      Thank you!

      Ugh, YES. It’s bad enough when you feel horrible about yourself, but when you have one (or both) of your parents saying…yes, I think you do need bigger boobs or a nose job, that just really messes a person up – whether they realize it or not.

      Kudos to you. My mom never offered (they’re quite large enough on their own, thank you) and I’ll never offer my kids the choice either. We all need to just learn to be comfortable in our own skin.

  4. It’s not even just the commercials either. Look at pretty much every TV show (not every one but close). Do you see very many women who are portrayed as successful and desirable who aren’t also gorgeous and thin? (Yes, there are exceptions, but I think they prove the rule. They stand out because they’re unusual.)

    • Karen Rought says:

      I completely agree! I feel like all the “unpretty” girls have to be vulgar or sarcastic to be “in.” And what about guys? They can get the hot wives and be fat and unattractive as long and they’re funny. You’re right in that there are exceptions, but in general there is a HUGE double standard here.

  5. alberta says:

    I think I was lucky in that our family did not get a TV until I was mid teans and there were very few programmes back then late 50s with 2 channels and lights out by 10.00p.m or something like:) I never did get really hooked and watch precious little now.

    However I have to say I thought the barbie dolls horrid – I was well grown up when they got to UK – never took to them at all:( sorry ’bout that

    • Karen Rought says:

      That’s great that you were never influenced by TV. Way to go. I did enjoy Barbie, but to each her own obviously. I’m sure you had some pretty stellar toys to play with otherwise. 🙂

  6. Julie Glover says:

    The one that gets my goat is the presumption that we jump into bed with someone on date #1. Really? That’s not a good idea, people. I’m not even talking morals here, just common sense. Based on TV shows, you’d think EVERYBODY does it that way. Statistics show otherwise (well, for now, at least until everyone starts to emulate TV). Interest post, Karen!

  7. Marji Laine says:

    What a great post! When you think about the power of television, and media in general, in shaping our lives it’s really staggering.

    I’ve tagged you on my blog! Am loving what you’re doing with yours! You can find out all the details here:
    I hope you can play!


  8. Debra Kristi says:

    I’m bouncing in my seat, “Yes, yes, yes.” I so agree. We DO NOT watch reality television. It’s all scripted for drama anyway. Can’t stand it. And I, too, am sick of the double standard. We used to watch “King of Queens” and as funny as Doug is I didn’t think their “couple” was believable. We see it all the time though.

    • Karen Rought says:

      I know! I wonder if reality TV junkies actually realize that it’s scripted? How can they even call it reality? King of Queens is actually exactly what I was thinking of when I wrote that. Thanks for commenting, Debra. 🙂

  9. […] The Midnight Novelist : Kill Your TV […]

  10. Fantastic points on a crucial topic. The media certainly can be a hugely negative influence on our body image and self esteem, particularly in the case of youth. Media also reflects societal ideals, however, so I believe it will take more than not watching television to “cure” the epidemic. I also believe that TV and other media forms can be a great way to support great causes and messages—as you’re doing with this post. 😉

    • Karen Rought says:

      Thank you, August, that really means a lot! And you’re absolutely correct – not watching TV isn’t going to fix the problem. Changing the way we think and look at ourselves will get us a long way. TV hones in on our deepest fears. If we can banish those fears (as a society) then TV won’t affect us as much. And, like you mentioned, there is a flip side to all of this too – there’s a lot of TV shows and movies that support the idea that you can love your body no matter what size or shape. I think times are changing and people are becoming more aware of how detrimental advertisements can be to a person’s mental health.

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