Thursday, December 30, 2010

Piece of Advice #82: Endeavor to be useful rather than just pretty

Hat tip to terry@breathinggrace for today's title.  I'd been struggling with a way to frame my thoughts in a Piece of Advice, and she summed it up perfectly.




I was perusing OneSTDV's blog the other day and read his piece, "Good Girls Gone Bad."  In it he gives his thoughts on the Youtube sensation juicystar07 (the girl on the right in the above video).  He describes her as "a beautiful, sweet, and just plain adorable "good girl" and says:
I've followed her off and on since I blogged about her awhile back, just mainly because she's a fun, not too serious, nice girl. Yet, Miss Fowler has a lot of haters, so there's a ton of information about her on the Internet. Most of the information constitutes attempts to undermine her purported "good girl" image, such as that she takes money for product reviews, that she's a bitch in real life, and other stuff like that.
I have to say, this was so interesting to me.  In the video OneSTDV showcases, juicystar07 does look very young, pretty, and appealing, but my two-word almost immediate reaction to her was, "Regina George," and I believe I can say that with very little jealousy in play.  I hadn't actually ever heard of her before, so I went and did a little research.  She and her sister (the girl on the left in the video above) have made hundreds of Youtube videos demonstrating beauty tips and other girl topics.  They also do video "hauls" in which they show off stuff they've just purchased - again, refer to above vid.  They been at it a couple of years and have become popular enough, with enough subscriber interest, to snag an offer for a sister reality TV show.  Their real names are Elizabeth and Lisa Fowler, and they hail from Tennessee.  Their father is a gynecologist.  They've recently moved to L.A. and they also seem to have both gotten the same nose job as a token of their success.  The nose job thing has resulted in some interesting online outrage from young women who reject that as a valid choice for "good role models" such as juicystar07 and allthatglitters21.  There are also rumors that they are both fake and bitchy and that they are essentially shills for the beauty business rather than objective reviewers.

Having read a significant amount of online commentary - most of which could be boiled down to either  jealousy or female attempts to curb other females' power, I'd have to say, as objectively as I can, given that I am also female, that it's unlikely that the Fowler girls are nice people and they are definitely not good role models.

First, the "good girl" debunking.  These are pretty girls at the height of their social/sexual power.  It's hard to say what they really look like under all that makeup, but they are attractive and can certainly get more attention from men (and other women) than they need.  They also come from an affluent background and have clearly been spoiled.  You cannot buy all the stuff that they display on their haul videos on the paycheck of a retail wage slave.  Daddy bought a lot of it, probably most of it, at least until recently when they started getting freebies in exchange for publicity.  People who spend copious amounts of time thinking about the shallowest aspects of themselves and how to garner more attention - and, therefore, more social power - aren't in the same category of "nice" as, say, Anne of Green Gables who was expected to pull her weight on a working farm and had a strict female relative clamping down on any show of pride or vanity.  Any girl that has ever gone to high school would know that the juicystar07s of the world are going to be queen bees, a la Regina George or Cordelia Chase, no matter how Girl-Next-Door the exterior.  Girls with social power use it.  And girls who crave their own reality TV shows are fame whores of the highest order.  There may be something to them underneath all the glitz and attention seeking, but it has not been developed.  At all.  Have they learned any domestic arts, child caregiving, or any other useful or marketable skill?  I doubt it.

Now on to the "good role model" debunking.  Youtube has a number of videos of young girls declaring how outraged they are that juicystar07 and allthatglitters21 got nose jobs.  They "feel betrayed" and "have unsubscribed" to their Youtube channels now that they know that these two are not the role models they seemed to be.  I find this logic (and outrage) confusing.  Yes, it is foolish, shallow, vain, and frivolous to get their perfectly fine noses reworked, but juicystar07 and allthatglitters21 made hundreds of videos detailing 1) exactly how shallow and vain they are and 2) teaching other girls how to deceptively alter their features with makeup.  Plastic surgery would seem entirely in keeping with their mutual worldview and previous behavior, none of which at any time was good role modeling.  Good role modeling is not about giving makeup tips or publicly seeking fame and wealth.  It's about showing other people how to be better - more compassionate, more empathetic, harder working, humbler, kinder, more generous.  It certainly isn't constantly buying and hawking cheap products made in foreign sweatshops by people working for slave wages.  It isn't spending someone else's money or figuring out how to get free stuff in exchange for free shilling.  Fame and wealth isn't character and will prove for these two to be ephemeral.  They have assets - their looks, whatever talent they may possess, a family willing to invest in them.  It is clear, though, that instead of using these to gain skills or form families they will squander them in pursuit of fame and publicity, fun times and the chance to "explore their sexuality" in the Big City.

Their parents would have better served them taking them to a real sweatshop and the community it supports rather than a NYC fashion show and nipping the Youtube attention seeking in the bud when it began.  Learning how to support yourself is essential to any young person, but these girls are not teaching that or any other truly useful thing.

18 comments:

  1. This isn't too related to the content of your post, but part of the reason I finally got off my tush and started my Internet Hate Machine is because I figured that if teenybopper talentless hacks like these two chicks (and all the other YouTube celebs with no skill - you think these two are bad? check out "misshannahminx") can be e-famous, why can't I? ;[

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  2. I was having trouble in getting a good professional makeup artist. Then I found this website. To tell you frankly, these guys are professional and kind of workaholic to give you your desired look. Try it. makeup advice

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  3. Thanks for the honorable mention.

    In actuality, like I said at Dalrock's, I thought those words sum up nicely the advice you give to young women.

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  4. "Daddy bought a lot of it,"

    And thus we see revealed that behind most every spoiled stuck up solipsistic little girl is a father who enables it.

    One thing we fellows can do to curb the level of toxic femininity in our culture is to curb our desire to spoil our daughters. We need to be as hard on them as we are on our sons.

    Good advice to women...endeavor to be useful, not just an ornament. Any man worth his salt will insist you to pull your weight.

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  5. I'd like to offer another perspective. I think I'm unbiased on the topic as I have no particular fondness for beauty or fashion topics. I wear makeup only a few times a year, and even then it's only mascara and lip gloss.

    What you see as pride and vanity or spending copious amounts of time thinking about the shallowest aspects, seems to me like shrewd and aggressive promotion and expansion of a potentially lucrative venture. Being aggressive in marketing and growing a venture and devoting lots of thought to it is not evidence of bitchiness or shallowness.

    It looks like these girls have, in fact, developed some marketable skills. They give fashion and beauty tips amusingly and/or helpfully enough that people want to listen to them, product manufacturers want to use them as promoters for their stuff, and some tv network might pay them to do a show. They could become self-supporting, and even independently wealthy with this, maybe eventually launch a makeup line or clothing label or nail polish.

    From your description, they're just like many other consumer review shows, magazines, blogs, many of which also engage in behind-the-scenes product placement (which I am against on principle, but doesn't seem to be a major objection of yours). Would you think these girls less frivolous if they made their name promoting and reviewing something not related to beauty, like video games or gourmet restaurants, even though those are arguably just as useless (or more useless) than enhancing one's looks?

    It's true that their privilege is what made it possible for them to get started, but nearly all accomplished people were assisted by one or more undeserved privileges in addition to pure hard work, whether the benefits are appearance, smart genes, height, wealth, a nurturing family, or occasional strokes of good luck.

    Disclaimer: I haven't watched any of the clips, and am working entirely off the text of the post above.

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  6. Anonymous - I agree that they have marketable skills in promotion. But what they are promoting is rampant consumerism which I am against. Also, while there is no harm, and some serious merit, in looking your best, if all women stopped using cosmetics tomorrow, the only ones harmed - except those covering up serious flaws like scars - would be the cosmetic companies. These girls would still be pretty, as pretty is a relative term; they would simply not be made up.

    Yes, they are doing the same things as women in magazines and women on talk shows in promoting beauty products and fashion, and my take on all that is that it's all - at best - a serious waste of time and - at worst - promoting a vain, self-indulgent, entitlement mentality and supporting businesses that use what is essentially slave labor to make cheap, poor quality imported goods. The cosmetics industry also tortures a goodly number of animals in its products testing as well. If they were paying local seamstresses who utilized locally made fabric there would be one less layer of moral difficulty in this scenario, but it would still be encouraging young women to coast on and manipulate with their looks.

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  7. I saw One's post about this and considered it just another one of his silly/goofy/harmless posts about (young)good-girls.Obviously,you saw things a bit more substantively."..fake and bitchy..sweatshop..explore their sexuality.." Well!!! I watched their GMA video and what ,apparently,is one of the younger girl's first(or so) instructional videos.It was all just the usual silly/frivolous girl stuff.The only thing that irked me was the blatant self-mutilation of her Southern accent.Your whole post has a rather "social justice" feel to it.Is there any stage in a girl/womans life when makeup is acceptable?What if the workers in a(womens-fashion) factory are making $(American)37.25 per hour?No;Really!

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  8. Funny, I didn't think grerp's post was "anti-makeup." I don't think that was her point at all.

    I wear a bit of makeup; I just don't spend unusual amounts of time and money on it. I think that's what she was referring to, the overt worship of consumerism.

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  9. Blue Blazer,
    It's as Terry said, I'm not against make-up per se. I use a little sometimes. It's that I think the consumerism they wallow in and promote is both wasteful and distasteful. A girl doesn't need a new spring wardrobe every spring. Nor does she need a whole closet full of cosmetics.

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  10. Gerp, I think you are right. These girls should have been taught more than make up and how to look pretty. One day they won't be young and in their prime. What skills will they have to offer then?

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  11. Dissent Over DSM-5
    December 31, 2010 I liked this article by Gary Greenberg about one psychiatrist’s criticism of the upcoming DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) revision. The DSM is the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association.

    This paragraph stood out for me:

    This new disease reminded Frances of one of his keenest regrets about the DSM-IV: its role, as he perceives it, in the epidemic of bipolar diagnoses in children over the past decade. Shortly after the book came out, doctors began to declare children bipolar even if they had never had a manic episode and were too young to have shown the pattern of mood change associated with the disease. Within a dozen years, bipolar diagnoses among children had increased 40-fold. Many of these kids were put on antipsychotic drugs, whose effects on the developing brain are poorly understood but which are known to cause obesity and diabetes. In 2007, a series of investigative reports revealed that an influential advocate for diagnosing bipolar disorder in kids, the Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Biederman, failed to disclose money he’d received from Johnson & Johnson, makers of the bipolar drug Risperdal, or risperidone. (The New York Times reported that Biederman told the company his proposed trial of Risperdal in young children “will support the safety and effectiveness of risperidone in this age group.”) Frances believes this bipolar “fad” would not have occurred had the DSM-IV committee not rejected a move to limit the diagnosis to adults.

    Emphasis added. Hundreds of thousands of children given brain-damaging drugs because . . . well, one big reason is that Harvard allows its faculty to do what Biederman did. Forced to choose between Harvard and drug company money, Biederman would choose Harvard. I am glad Professor Ross Anderson, a Cambridge computer science professor, turned down an industry request to censor a student, but I am sorry he said the person making the request had “a deep misconception of what universities are and how we work.”

    American Psychiatric Association incompetence.

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  12. Check out the 60 Minutes episode tonight on cover ups in the drug industry (ie.Glaxo-Smith -Kline). Scary. Same problem, different scenerio.

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  13. Lowering of standards. Most men are happy with women that don't look like total sluts. Even if, you know, they are.

    Yeah, we are so bad that a chick not wallowing like a pig on her STD filth is actually a show of standards.

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  14. Rap star Kanye West makes video where he kills white women.
    Two of the biggest black celebrities in the world got together to make a video glorifying violence towards women (in which most of the women are white). The images are shocking, especially considering the close connections between one of the rappers and Barack Obama.

    The song will appear on Kanye West’s new album titled “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Based on the video, his fantasy appears to be to kidnap, rape, and murder white women. The initial cover art, which has already been rejected by Walmart, features a black man holding a beer bottle in a sexually explicit pose with a naked white woman.

    In 2005 the NAACP presented him with an award for “most outstanding black male artist.” It remains to be seen if groups like the NOI and NAACP will denounce the video, which seems to re-enforce the most negative stereotypes about black men.

    Kanye Westis depicted holding the severed head of a white woman in his new video. The video also features Jay-Z, another big name, who campaigned with Barack Obama.

    West’s CD’s are released by Rick Rubin’s Def Jam, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. MTV recently named Kanye West its 2010 Man of the Year.

    The video shows dead women hanging from the ceiling and several images of women being held captive. In one scene Kayne West is in bed with two dead white women positioning their bodies in a sexually provocative way. In another scene West holds the bloody severed head of a white woman.


    Sample of the Lyrics…

    Conquer, stomp ya, stop your silly nonsense
    None of you n*****s know where the swamp is
    None of you n*****s have seen the carnage that I’ve seen
    I still hear fiends scream in my dream
    Murder murder in black convertibles
    I kill a block I murder avenues
    Rape and pillage a village, women and children
    Everybody wanna know what my Achilles heel is
    LOVE I don’t get enough of it
    All I get is these vampires and blood suckers
    All I see is these n*****s, I’ve made millionaires


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f4EZwOdgwI&feature=player_embedded

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  15. You criticize these girls as mean girls...but the tone and judgement of your post is equally unkind. I agree with the person above who said that these girls are enterprising and able to market themselves. The reality is that they know intuitively that girls their age would be interested in makeup and took advantage of that.

    You call them and their critics mean girls...but really ou are just as bad slandering them on your blog. You're simply an older mean girl with smarter adjectives and more sharpened, seemingly "just" insults to throw in their direction. Wrap what you're saying in as much maternal concern and condescension as you like, how are you any more justified in criticizing them?

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  16. I like your blog, but sometimes there is something off about it. Anyone who really wants to help women will advise them to maximize their sexual power and at the same time develop the strength of character to have legitimate solid self respect based in nonphysical attributes. And your dismissal of the equalizing power of knowledge of cosmetics is just weird. Remove cosmetics and a lot of girls will be plain, and this is not going to make them magically unjealous of the naturally pretty.

    I don't think you really understood LM Montgomery's work. She is not on Marilla's side against Anne's love of beauty. Notice that Anne's desire for puffed sleeves and pretty hair is very much a subordinate part of her love for beauty in general. Marilla, and the other harsh older female characters, function to keep Anne's loves properly ordered, but the text makes very clear that they themselves are limited as humans by their fear of femininity, and that Anne does them as much good by bringing frippery and nonsense into their straightened, narrow lives, as they do her by disciplining what could otherwise have made her hopelessly frivolous.

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  17. Either one of them can be my trophy wife any day. You sound extremely bitter and would trade places in a heart beat with either of these girls.

    They are young, fertile and "socially/financially powerful" everything a modern American woman should be.

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  18. They are young, fertile and "socially/financially powerful" everything a modern American woman should be.

    This is just bizarre.

    Youth and fertility don't last. If that's the standard of what a MAW "should be", all women will spend the majority of their lives failing to be what they "should be".

    As for "socially/financially powerful" -- unlike wealth, power is zero-sum. If that's the standard of what a MAW "should be", the majority of women will fail to be what they "should be". (This is actually worse than the first case, if you read carefully).

    Any ethos that produces a standard that, by definition cannot be met by the overwhelming majority of those it is said to apply to probably needs a re-think. It's like saying: "Bob and Tom are taller than 90% of the population -- everything a modern American man should be."

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