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I love your low self-esteem

Keep-fit class in the gym, c1981

In the gym, I hear music that I wouldn’t hear anywhere else. At home I listen to the radio (Radio 6 or Radio 4, sometimes Radio 3, can’t bear radio adverts so it’s BBC all the way) or I listen to CDs or Spotify (though less so since I ditched the premium subscription and have to hear their adverts).

At the weekend, in the ‘Ladies Toning Room’ – which is where they keep the machines for lifting weights with your thighs, giant inflatable balls and floor mats for ab crunches – they normally play Kiss FM. In the other weights room they usually play something more ‘urban‘ or Kerrang.

Two songs I heard both focused on girl’s low self-esteem and especially body image (in the gym! yes!). Both were love songs, sung by boys to the female object of their affections, unfortunately I didn’t get the names of the artists or songs. Both basically said ‘even though you think you look crap, I still love you’. Touching? But there was no suggestion of “hey, you shouldn’t bother thinking you look crap because really that’s boring and irrelevant”. The songs were *expecting* that girls think they look crap, and awww, aren’t they sweet and lovable for it, the silly little things. In the song-world it seems normal, and in fact desirable, for girls to say they look crap. The girls’ low self-esteem is not just unfortunate, their vulnerability is in fact desirable. And the solution to this low self-esteem and negative body image? It’s not to realise that in fact what you look like is really not the most important thing in the whole world, but for a guy to convince you that you are in fact beautiful. Because you can only believe you’re beautiful if you’re beautiful in his eyes, and until you are beautiful in his eyes, you’d better profess that you look crap or you won’t be attractive in the first place.

I am so glad I’m not a teenager any more.



One thought on “I love your low self-esteem

  1. Yes so is it that ‘boys’ response to girls’ insecurity about their desirability – based on how they look – is to reconfirm that beauty IS what makes them desirable, and that they – the potential boyfriend – bestows this – and so resolves the girl’s anxieties?
    I liked the title even though you wanted to change it. I was going to write something nice about boys – their attempt to empathise, their good feeling of being a man whose desire makes a girl feel good about herself – wrongly, misplaced – and then a huge wave of cynicism came over me as I thought about someone thinking – girls buy boy-records because they have low esteem about thier looks and bodies and they fantasise about a boy who might find them beautiful and so let’s write a song that feeds their fantasies.
    We were talking in our local political group about the vulnerability of young women today. Some time ago, someone wrote a book called A hundred years of psychoanlaysis and the world isn’t any better (or something like that). I sometimes think we should write a book called 50 years of Feminisim and the world isn’t any better – as far as the sexual and bodily insecurities of young girls are concerned. That’s a bit sweeping – of course, things are better in many ways – but our group thought that the ruthless use of airburshed and unattainably beautiful female bodies and faces to sell stuff is worse now than it was when I was in my twenties and thirties.

    Posted by isobelurquhart | November 13, 2012, 22:23

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