Sex in the Media: Celebrities & Role Models

302px-Miley_Cyrus_at_Kids'_Inaugural_2-recropped

Disney's pop star Miley Cyrus has been under fire for a controversial dance move in the 2009 Teen Choice Awards. Source: Wikipedia

In the midst of all this talk of celestial events, health care reform, and newly discovered species of giant, meat-eating plants, there’s SEX.

So what else is new?

But that’s exactly it. Nowadays, sex in the media is so commonplace, so mundane, so regular that even something as harmless as flipping through the TV channels to watch PBS’ Arthur can lead you to news of the latest teen sex scandal (Vanessa Hudgens, I’m looking at you. Again.). By now, you’re all probably thinking, “Well, duh, Abstinence blogger, get to the point already.”

The point is a question: Why?

Why is there so much coverage on these “sexy” teen celebrities? Why are these teen celebrities acting so scandalous? Maybe it has to do with the season. Maybe it has to do with the rate of today’s technology advancing proportionally to the rate of society’s debauchery – that we live in a globalized world where anything can be sent across the hemisphere with just click of a button.

But that’s tedious.

You and I can both sum it up in two words: Sex sells.

Celebrities can’t take all the blame for this, though. You can argue that they have the responsibility as public figures to be upright citizens, role models for young, impressionable audiences. But they’re also people – people with too much money and too much fame, going along with the trend of what’s “hip” and “new,” “sexy” and “hot.”

And that’s the problem. Media and people feed off of each other. Media gives what they think attracts people the most – sex and “hotties.” And people look to the media as a litmus test of what’s “cool.” And the message we inevitably see is this: Get sexy, or be lame.

So here’s my counter-message:

To all the girls out there, you can still look and feel beautiful without acting like the next Megan Fox or Jessica Alba.

To all the boys out there, you don’t have to be a “player” to be a ladies’ man. Chivalry might be going out in style with feminism on the rise, but respect will never, ever get old.

And boys, when you see a girl wearing skimpy clothes, she’s not “asking” for the catcalls, the sexual harassment, the asinine remarks.

And girls, you might not be wearing those clothes for attention, but be prepared for it, whether you want it or not.

The media is a powerful and often underestimated tool of influence. It can help define your way of thinking, it can warp it; it can make you feel ugly or beautiful, overconfident or lacking. And the things they say aren’t all truth.

Sex may sell, but don’t be sold by it. The media can try to tell you how to dress, how to date, how to act and how to have sex. But very rarely does it show you the consequences after the hook-ups and love affairs – unless, of course, it’s sensationalist enough. And even then, the media doesn’t show you all the facts, choosing to only focus on the more scandalous facts.

So leave all the sex and scandal to the people with train-wreck lives. And if you’re currently one of those people living the sex and scandal of a train-wreck life, there’s always the choice and freedom to step off it. Sex takes two to tango, after all.

Stay classy.

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3 Comments

  1. Lucy Cotton

    Sex sells, and sometimes you lose everything else you’re trying to sell by doing so. I’m reminded of the Evony advertisement fiasco. (Warning: Link NSFW, full of barely-covered breasts.)

    Everyone has a right to choose their own public and private images. The trick, I think, is to have those images match up with who you actually want to be, and not who society is pressuring you to be. The question isn’t ‘who should I be today?’ but rather ‘who am I today?’ To do otherwise is, quite frankly, stressful.

    Myself, I like to be girly. I enjoy wearing flower prints and scarves. Sometimes I like to wear skimpy red things, sometimes I don’t, but I don’t confine myself to any particular style as a matter of course.

    • In case there are people who aren’t up with the blog lingo:

      NSFW = Not Safe For Work = a website you shouldn’t look at in a professional (or public) setting.

      And those advertisements are awful. I’m going to refrain from standing on a soapbox about woman’s rights and the objectification of their bodies, etc. But yeah. The Evony advertisements are pretty wretched.

      The problem is — it’s hard to untangle your own perception of beauty with society’s “standard” of beauty. I keep thinking of that one episode of Bones in which Dr. Brennan vents on how plastic surgery is “barbaric,” and to “fix” our unique, physical traits is to essentially conform to the rest of society and “erase” our own identity.

      There are so few people out there who actually look in the mirror, look at their flaws and say, “This is who I am, and I am perfect for me.”

      And personality is a BIG factor. I know a guy who says that it’s a woman who walks with *confidence* that catches his attention, not someone who wears trashy clothes for attention.

      • Lucy Cotton

        I find this interesting because I wore real makeup all day for the first time yesterday. I was getting my picture taken for my driving license. I looked nice – much closer to the beauty ideal – but I couldn’t shake the weirdness of it. I’m never going to be someone who wears makeup every day, I think.

        I feel uncomfortable with the word trashy as applied to clothes. It does convey your meaning, but it distracts me from your point because I’m busy dissecting why the word bothers me. Just one of those things, I guess.

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