Superficiality in America
In early American and European lands, lets say the 1600â€™s through 1800â€™s, life was very much different. Men were born to be strong, and reliable, in order to help the work force. Women were born to maintain the house and please the men of the house, whether they are fathers or husbands. The courting of these times was very simple, it was to better the living conditions of the families involved. A man would marry a woman to acquire a wife and land, or other forms of property. In romantic stories, there was love that drew people together, but in actuality in these situations, love was either found after the marriage, or not found at all. The world has changed drastically since this time. There are so many factors to relationships now, since our means of living is different. People meet at clubs, date for a couple of weeks to try out their prospective mate, and either continue into having a relationship or reject the prospect because of their failures to please. Marriage is still somewhat over property gain, and it has lost some of its sacredness. People have become shallower and the inner capabilities of others means much less than it used to and should. We could care less about a personâ€™s attitudes, the world has become consumed with sex and what is attractive and who is attractive, and this plague is very predominant in the United States of America. Also, the world has become obsessed with showing off its wealth in a flashy and unnecessary way. Celebrities spend hundreds of thousands on jewelry and spend more money on the rims
of their expensive cars than the cars themselves. America is so influenced by the media, that middle-class people spend the limited money they have on these ostentatious merchandises. Everything is about self-image and reaching what is depicted as â€œbeautifulâ€. We sit back and talk about how â€œhotâ€ Brazilian natives are, but we choose not to take into account that besides its tourism, Brazil is a poor country that is high in crime and needs help. And we glorify this. We have about 100 shows that are all about models, choose who you want to marry, a bunch of â€œbeautifulâ€ people together in a great apartment and watch the turmoil. The fabrics of our social life are reflections of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and this isnâ€™t saying much. Boys used to idolize Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, nowadays the general idols are Colin Farrell and Brad Pitt. As if, to make things worse, there are TV shows that illustrate people trying to LOOK like Brad Pitt or Britney Spears. The United States of America has become more and more shallow and superficial. And it is not ceasing now, it will only continue.
The definition of superficiality is of, affecting, or having to do with the surface, shallow; actual rather than substantial; trivial and insignificant. Here is another definition of superficiality, America. The country and the people in it have taken a turn for the worst. The inner thoughts and ideas of people are fleeting, and soon a person will not be judged by the content of his/her heart, or the inner mechanisms of his/her mind, but by
his biceps or her bust size and the color of their hair. The world is so commercial now, everything is up for sale. They used the American flag to sell products after 9-11, and sex is used as the ultimate marketing tool.
â€œThink about the Abercrombie & Fitch models frolicking on the beach, the famous faces selling Revlon cosmetics, or the curvaceous Victoriaâ€™s Secret lounging in their sexy lingerie. Think too of the movie stars, television actors, and sports stars you watch and have possibly come to idolize. Can you help wondering how much their good looks contribute to their success?â€(Mims & Nollen 82)
The media and commercial corporations of America are truly the rulers of this country. Besides them holding most of the economy in the palm of their hands, they also have the means to manipulate everyone. They can chose what is fashionable, who and what is attractive, what we should strive to become. The new Barbie dolls are a great example of this. Barbie was at one point directed toward middle class girls and wore clothes that most people could afford. â€œNo more. Now Barbie is into labels, and sheâ€™s not shopping at outlet malls.â€(Borger 90) Women, especially young girls strive to look like Barbie and Britney. There are pressures that society has put on women, making it seem that the only way to be successful is to look like this, or at least that this would help you. â€œSearching for wifey(girlfriend) the looks are basically what catches my attention and the personality is what determines whether I pursue the relation or notâ€¦ but on a teenage shallow hormone level itâ€™s ALL about looks.â€(Interview #1- Male) Women are often looked at as
objects in America, but its not just women. It is more occurring now that men are now being looked at as objects as well.
â€œâ€¦Menâ€™s Health, a magazine that in the last six years has built a circulation as big as Esquireâ€™s and GQâ€™s put together, says the mass media â€˜in the last five to seven years has really changed the way it portrays men.â€™ Whether you look at Calvin Kleinâ€™s underwear ads or that Diet Coke commercial where the girls in the office ogle the shirtless construction hunk, â€˜men are more and more portrayed as sex objectsâ€¦ So they are feeling the way that women have for many, many yearsâ€¦â€(McLaughlin 85)
The idea of beauty is now at a level too high to reach. And now, peopleâ€™s measures of reaching it are becoming more and more drastic.
The Measures People Will Take
The demands that American people feel about the way the look have pushed people to methods that are self-mutilating and dangerous psychologically and physically. Anorexia and bulimia are two eating disorders that have befallen many teenage girls, but it is rarely stated that as of recently, more boys than before have fallen victim to these disorders. Men, especially athletes, have also looked towards steroids to help create the body that they feel is optimum. The portrayal of characters like David Hasselhoff from
Baywatch, and basketball and football stars, has forced men and teenage guys into a state of low self-esteem where they feel puny and weak. The following is an excerpt about a young manâ€™s struggles with being too short. â€œStrategies for stretching the limbs were suggested- hanging from door frames, sleeping on your back, doing assorted floor exercise- all of which I incorporated into my daily routine (get up, brush teeth, hang from doorframe).(Trudeau 94) Women are also susceptible to falling for eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, because thin women are the ideal as of right now. And so are busty women, which is what brings me to my next point. This is a process which has been glorified in this country, through television with shows and commercials, plastic surgery. Plastic surgery is so prevalent in the United States that there are numerous syndicated TV shows which display the actual procedures such as â€œExtreme Makeover,â€ â€œThe Swan,â€ and â€œI Want a Famous Face. Plastic surgery is now running amuck through the teenage girl population.
â€œWhile rhinoplasty remains the most common cosmetic operation for teenagers, doctors are performing an increasing number of procedures such as breast implants, liposuction and tummy tucks on young women like Casto and even girls as young as 14.â€(Boodman)
The number of girls 18 and younger have tripled from 3,872 to 11,326 from 2002 to 2003. And throughout all ages, the rise in implants is obvious, because in 2003 the number was around 247,000, and it was 32,000 in 1992. These young girls do not really know what they are getting into at all. Some doctors have limits to the patients they will accept according to their maturity. â€œGreenberg said he tries to asses how mature
teenagers are. He said he turns away those whom he considers too young or those â€œwho say â€˜I want to look like Britney Spearsâ€™ or â€˜I want to be a D cup so I can go out with more boysâ€™â€â€(Boodman). Plastic surgery is so much of a reality now, more and more girls feel that plastic surgery is eventually going to be a part of their life. It is often on the mind of girls. This is the response from a girl that I interviewed about plastic surgery and if she ever ponders over having surgery done to her. â€œSure, I hate my arms. The only thing that would stop me would be the pain.â€(Interview #2- Female)
What factor do I feel led to the country being in the state in which it is in? Well, the level of superficiality has been in a steady increase for sometime. Figures of beauty and wealth used to be people of power, rulers of kingdoms. People wanted to aspire to be like the presidents and kings and queens of their land. The aspirations have just shifted to the movie stars and pop idols, because they are now the most influential people. And now that we have the means to â€œenhanceâ€ ourselves, people are just grasping those opportunities to be better accepted. Also, the hold that religion is holding on us is being lifted and escaping our minds. If people were still as strongly religious like we were a century ago, then they would accept themselves and the way that God made them. I, myself, am a bit superficial, but I also feel that the drastic destructive turn that the US and the world has taken is for the worst. I donâ€™t know what is the next step, but I hope the world wakes up before everyone is Britney Spears and Brad Pitt and we, as a people, lose our own identity and individualism.
1. Mims, Joan T., and Elizabeth M. Nollen. "Mirror, Mirror: Cultural Reflections on Body Image." Mirror on America. Ed. Joan T. Mims, and Elizabeth M. Nollen. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2003. 81-83.
2. McLaughlin, Patricia. "Venus Envy." Mirror on America. Ed. Joan T. Mims, and Elizabeth M. Nollen. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2003. 84-86.
3. Borger, Gloria. "Barbie's Newest Values." Mirror on America. Ed. Joan T. Mims, and Elizabeth M. Nollen. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2003. 88-90.
4. Trudeau, Garry. "My Inner Shrimp." Mirror on America. Ed. Joan T. Mims, and Elizabeth M. Nollen. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2003. 92-95.
5. Santayana. Santayana, "Materialism and Idealism in American Life. University of Virginia. 28 Oct 2004 .
6. Strange, Roderick. "Advent Tests Those Who Have Been Seduced by Superficiality." Times Newspaper 30 Nov 2002, London ed.: pg 54.
7. Boodman, Sandra G. "For More Teenage Girls, Adult Plastic Surgery." Washington Post 26 Oct 2004. 31 Oct 2004 .
8. Morrison, Alan . "The Scourge of Superficiality and its Remedy." 29 Oct 2004. The Remedy for Superficiality. Diakrisis International. 31 Oct 2004 .