Thinspiration Videos: Progress?

“Thinspiration” videos and pages have been popping up all over the web.  As discussed in the bioethics of cybermedicalization, it is hard to ever find a true black or white on these issues.  Original “thinspiration” videos got a lot of hype, and were eventually seen as a negative thing by most of the world.  One of these reasons is how it encouraged girls to strive for unattainable means.  With photoshop and airbrushing, these photos are often not “real” people, which means some girls will die trying to achieve the impossible, by having that perfect, and truly unattainable body.  How can one ever reach the impossible? Another reason that thinspiration was viewed in a negative light is that ways of “attaining” that body would often be embedded in the video or in the text beneath, encouraging starvation if it was necessary. To combat this, some have tried to make “healthy” thinspiration videos. For example,

This video encourages girls that “thin doesnt have to mean anorexic”, and attempts to promote a healthy approach to weight loss.  But the problem is, the pictures they are using are again, unattainable. Using mainly celebrities who have obviously been airbrushed, it creates again an unattainable body that people can fight to the death for.  So, what is the next logical type of thinspiration to employ? How about healthy bodies which are naturally thin?

So called “real girl” thinspirations are real girls, NOT celebrities with airbrushed perfect bodies.  Yet again, it is encouraging girls to reach unhealthy standards.  These girls may be naturally thin, or may be using unhealthy methods to get there. But even if they are naturally thin, girls who are not as thin as that who want to lose weight will try to attain something that will never be there body type.  For example, you could end up weighing 100 pounds, but if you naturally have wider hips, no amount of weight loss will change that.

The negative is all thinspiration promotes that where you are, right now, is not good enough.  Why can girls not be viewed as beautiful, and view themselves as beautiful, just the way they are, at this very moment? Some may argue that some people are trying to get inspiration to lose those stubborn pounds that are putting them at risk for diabetes and other weight related diseases.  Well then isn’t becoming HEALTHY your inspiration? Knowing you will see your daughters wedding day, or can spend more time with family would be more appropriate.  It is not bad to want to lose a bit of weight and look sexy.  But when it becomes a need instead of a want, and happiness becomes a destination rather than something that is with us through that journey, that is when weight loss can become a negative thing.  Weight loss over striving for a perfect (unattainable) body is a much better goal, and thinspiration videos does not promote this.

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Anybody Out There?

SWF, 25, looking for long term, (long distance?) relationship. I’m from Vancouver, Canada but love can be anywhere, right?

I’ve never tried sites like this before, but I figure it’s worth a shot. I’m a recent college graduate with a degree in Communications and I’m aspiring to be in advertising one day. I’m currently a waitress and working on paying off my student loans before taking on the world.

I grew up on a farm so I love horseback riding and the outdoors. I go camping and hiking all the time in the summer with my friends and family. The best place I’ve been to has got to be around Tobermory and Bruce Peninsula National Park. I’ve been into sports ever since I was 6. I figure skate, swim, and play volleyball and I try to work out every now and then. I’m an avid reader as well. When I’m not busy, I love to wind down with a good book and a mug of green tea in my Snuggie (yes, I bought one!). I love music too. I can tolerate just about anything except for most rap. I’m very corny but some would say I’m traditional. I’m not much of a cook (I make a mean bowl of cereal!) but I’d like to take classes one day.

My ideal guy: taller than me (I’m 5’5″), great sense of humour, and a love of the outdoors. He should be college educated with an eye on the future.

Sound intriguing? Shoot me a message and maybe we’ll talk some more. xox

The above was an example of an ad that one may find on a personals’ site. As a male, it was definitely a little stranger than usual writing from a perspective, but it was pretty fun (in a weird sort of way). As we know, it is not uncommon to see males assuming the persona of a female online (and vice versa). But are there some people who would assume the opposite gender roles in personal ads? Maybe. Personal ads on dating sites try to be realistic; after all, you are trying to connect to real people with real information. However, no matter how delicate situations like online dating can be, there is always the potential for a falsification of one’s personality.

Take this video for instance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTTwcCVajAc
The video is of a girl posting on EHarmony; it’s been widely seen by now and is commonly believed to be a spoof. Nonetheless, it seems real enough to be an actual ad.

Internet Dating: Relationship Redefinition

In the book, “The Shallows”, by Nicholas Carr, the author discusses how our intellectual technologies (writing, the typewriter, the Internet) ‘rewire’ our brains as a result of frequent use. While Carr describes, in particular, how the Internet restructures our brain processes, as in how our minds function, I noticed that Lawson and Leck’s essay observed how the Internet challenged society’s predominant ways of thinking. Their essay about online dating examined in detail the variety of benefits of this courtship medium, but many of these attractions also challenged traditional social expectations and norms.

For instance, the sanctity of marriage is redefined. Recurring points in the essay pointed to the fact that users of online dating are often married, and their use of these sites is not restricted by this circumstance. Therefore, the traditional perceptions of marriage fidelity and exclusiveness have been reshaped by the online world of possibilities. These online dating sites both permit and promote coveting, as well as the explorations of multiple relationships. Internet dating platforms transform acts that generally have been viewed as sinful, scandalous or ‘wrong’, and portrayed them as the new acceptable social norms. And we have accepted them.

As well, these dating sites disrupt the conventional, and yes, stereotypical, notions of gender roles. Lawson and Leck’s essay examines how adolescent girls choose to explore their sexual aggressiveness online, and how both male and female users take advantage of the anonymity to explore opposite gender experiences. Women, who have most often been portrayed as the weaker sex in media, seize this opportunity to divert from this persona and adopt a more assertive attitude in their relations with  men. While the media also constructs the ideal man’s man, online dating sites offer men a chance to experiment with their understandings of the female perspective. However, it is important to note that these disruptions of conventional gender definitions proliferate because of the Internet’s lack of repercussions and its separation from the users’ real life identities.

I simply found it very interesting to note how the Internet not only affects the physical design and workings of our brain, according to Carr, but how Internet services have also altered our ways of thinking about the world around us. Online dating services replace old values and social behaviour and grant opposing ones status. Internet dating has thus done more than simply change the dating process for men and women. As a result of the availability and the promises of dating sites, we have also adapted our perceptions of relationships entirely.

Ashley Madison, the Online Affair Service

Ad for the site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwJSD46JSoM

Ashley Madison, at www.ashleymadison.com, is an online “dating” service, but not of the generic kind. This website specializes in setting up affairs for people who are already married. The website fully supports the idea of married people coming on this website to find people other than their significant others to go out with. Their tagline even promotes “Life is short, have an affair” and “Have an affair, guaranteed”.

In a way, this service remediates the actual meeting of people in real life that someone may have an affair with. By doing this, it makes it much more accessible, and much less personal of an interaction. Approaching someone as a sexual interest while married is much more intimidating in real life than it is on the internet. The other key factor here is that the website brings together people who share similar interests and are looking for a very specific thing. Again, meeting someone in person, it is a lot different trying to find someone to have an affair with if they know you are married. The website also allows singles to sign up in search of the same thing, or looking for married people as well. This makes the site open to a wider variety of people, looking for all different things.

The point of discussion which I believe goes beyond the actual workings of the website is if a site like this should be allowed to exist? The site promotes the socially unacceptable behavior of cheating on a spouse, and tries to normalise it as if it is a common behaviour. They do this by preying on weak relationships (as shown in the ad), and making cheating on ones spouse seem like it is even the beneficial option in the scenario.

Ignorance is bliss

One of the first points we brought up in class on Monday was that pornography distribution has a solid history. There are accounts going back centuries of pornographic images and ideas. Nevertheless, it is still something many people are uncomfortable discussing because of the negative stigma associated with it.

What I find interesting is that even with the increasing acceptances of small pornographic images in Hollywood films, we still choose to avoid discussing what effects that has on our society. Mediums have always been re-appropriated to cater human sexual desire. With the prevalence of the Internet, it is inevitable that this would become the next medium for hosting pornographic images. The Internet allows things to be anonymous, free, private, and immediate. The Internet allows allows greater access to information. All of this aids the appeal of involving themselves in porn.

Despite all of this, social science have yet to discuss the topic that has been filtering into our mainstream media one image at a time. In the essay “Positioning Pornography in the Digital Economy,” the authors discuss how one needs to remove their moral judgement before diving into a topic such as this. Scholarly discussion of pornography has even been marginalized in word choices and categorization. Even popular media has made a movement towards not ignoring this part of our society.

After the liberation movement, it became okay to discuss your sexuality and humans were more open to being sexual beings. But since then, it is almost as if we have reverted back to being hush-hush about the topic, especially since pornography is available to a wider audience through the Internet.

I guess society is waiting for the “okay” to come from somewhere in terms of this topic before we can pursue it in an academic sense. Will there ever be a time when humans will be more open to discussing sex and sexuality or will the topic always remain behind closed doors?

My Brief Encounter With a Strange Gypsy

(The following is a satirical take on “My brief OkCupid Affair With a World Champion Magic Player” from the male perspective.)

Earlier this month, I came home fresh off of a Magic tournament, thinking to myself I am amazing. I need to get in touch with the rest of humanity through OKCupid. Sure, I’d heard some stories, but what’s the worst that could happen?

Two months into my online dating experiment, OKCupid had given me an anonymous online presence. It was like shining a spotlight on a dead raccoon only to realize that he is sleeping. Every time I signed on, I was greeted with awesome messages, like: “I’ll sho u wut magic issss ;)”.  Even though I didn’t mention Magic in my information, fans of the game immediately recognized my name. The only problem is that Magic doesn’t define who I am. Sure, I’m the world champion, but I’m much more than that on a personal level. So I decided to message someone who I just happened to stumble upon – someone who seemed non-confrontational and generally a safe bet. “You should go out with me :)” I typed. She gave me her name and told me to “Google away”. She signed off, and I Googled her name. I found nothing unusual about her, just a regular person. Boy was I in for a shock.

We met for a drink mid way through the week. She was thin and slender, dressed in a Fed-Ex uniform with pale skin and a strange accent. Regardless, we started talking about normal stuff—family, work, college. I told her my brother was a gamer. And then she asked me what I did in my spare time. I casually mentioned that I played Magic: The Gathering when I was younger.

“Actually,” I muttered. “I’m the world champion.”

She laughed hysterically until veins popped out of her skull and beer spilled from her nose and somehow found its way back into her cup. Wow, I thought. This lady is strange! The crazed look in her eyes told me that she thought I was some kind of alien. Regardless, we called it a night and decided to meet again later on in the week.

We met back up on Friday night for dinner. We ordered our mains and kept conversation light. Just after our food arrived and we began eating, she asked me 3 questions. I gave her 3 answers. With each answer, she nodded and progressively lowered her face closer and closer to her plate. I shotgunned the rest of my beer and thought I gotta get outta here – she’s just a fake-ass gypsy! I smiled. She promptly finished eating and insisted in heading home right away. I left the rest of my food on my plate and I dropped her off.

I never heard from her again. I went on with my life and things haven’t changed for me. I’m still J, I’m still amazing, and I’m still single. Moral of the story, whether or not you Google the shit out of your next date, you never know who they are ‘till you meet them. Also, gypsies only belong in Magic – so when you go out on a date, don’t be a gypsy.

Japanese Animation Games and Fetishisation

In Brittney’s presentation and this weeks readings we learned about the “white male”, and how games are designed to appeal to this demographic.  This included letting the player (assumed to be a white male as a majority) feel powerful and dominant over all things, letting women be put in games as play things and other races as nothing more than an exotic element, and thus no challenge to the masculinity of the supposed player.  I would like to challenge this by bringing up the concept of japanese animation games.  This brings to light a style of game and visual culture that is native to japan (though it has seeped into North American culture), and lets us see the same pattern, but with the “asian male” targeted, rather than the white male.  This lets us see that it is a model applied cross-culturally, and that the white male is not always the dominant character.

What is interesting about most Japanese animation games is that there is usually not an option to be a male at all. This could be great in the way of female power, if it were not for how the majority of the characters are deigned. Instead of powerful, respectable women you have the choice of different females, usually falling into two major fetishes: The young innocent girl, or the busty promiscuous female.  It is the usual case that there is very little clothing worn (an extremely short school girl skirt for the young innocent girls, and practically a body g-string for some of the promiscuous characters), and in some cases there will be sexual gratification after making a correct move (such as in the white male comparison of SSX Tricky).  Not only this but often there will be a bisexual female theme included in these games, most obviously for the male to consume. Race also comes into play, as if there are any characters of colour it is almost always a white female, and usually blue eyed, blonde, scantily dressed, and leads to the fantasy of what a white girl should be like.  Any girls of other races (except Japanese and white) are almost always omitted, and the white male is almost never seen which may be for the same reason that men of other colours are never put in the same rank as the lead white player: so that there is no real challenge to their *insert race* masculinity.  So though quite a lot of video games are targeting the white male as discussed in class, I think it is important to remember that this is just a model, and can be applied cross-culturally.

A great example of a japanese animation game would be “Arcana Hearts”, which is a fighting game (reinforces masculinity), where all of the characters you can choose from are female, highly fetishistic, and have promiscuous background stories to boot.

Arcana Hearts Preview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eIv53o2wII&feature=related