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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » 70s/80s vs 00s: body image, sexuality and the media

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Author Topic: 70s/80s vs 00s: body image, sexuality and the media
bluejumprope
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Recently, I've been watching The Facts of Life (ran from '79-'88) and Three's Company ('77-'84) for the first time and I've been struck a lot by how much it feels like a different era, and particularly how it feels MORE liberated.

There's a lot of traditional gender role stuff/sexism in it that feels very dated, but there's some stuff that seems much more relaxed in regard to sex, and in some ways feels more respectful of young people. Even Suzanne Somers in Three's Company looks so much more natural bodied to me than what I grew up seeing.

In the same vein, I just looked at some early Madonna videos (here's Holiday ) and I can't believe how wonderfully natural/normal her body looks.

For contrast I looked at some Britney Spears who I haven't looked at in several years ( I'm a Slave 4 U and Womanizer ...what is UP with that??) and it makes my brain hurt, there's so much screwed up with it.

Does anyone else have any thoughts about this? What does it look like to you?

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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Heather
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...and thus you now perhaps get some of the "What the hell HAPPENED?!?" response that people of my generation have to what you all are having to deal with. [Smile]

I do agree -- whether we are talking about media or culture in general -- that in the late seventies and early 80's -- I'd even say well into the 90's -- that things, to me, felt more liberated, that overall view of the body and body image felt more positive. Mind, it wasn't Utopia, either, not accessible to everyone. For instance, when fitness crazes for women started in the late seventies and then built a lot into the 80's, there was also an ideal put forth that wasn't something everyone could attain, a very fit, muscled ideal. However, that ideal was at least healthy, and people were trying to get to it more via exercise than starvation or cosmetic surgery. At the same time, though, I know my mother and plenty of her friends were still often doing fad diets now and then, and plenty of girls I grew up with were dieting on and off during those years. It seemed to start later, though, rather than at the earlier ages it's starting with now.

(Heck, before that Madonna video, she didn't used to even shave under her arms. Plus, she's a dancer! So, even expecting her body to look more average is expecting a lot and yet.)

And yes, I'd say that the attitudes about sex were, in many places, in a lot of media, far more relaxed. My sense is that some of what you're dealing with now has a lot to do with both conservative backlash to that, but also to how capitalism -- folks working to make that profitable -- had an impact.

[ 01-26-2009, 11:14 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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bluejumprope
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quote:
...and thus you now perhaps get some of the "What the hell HAPPENED?!?" response that people of my generation have to what you all are having to deal with. [Smile]
Yeah, I do [Smile]

The more I think about this, the harder I find it to believe how much people around my age are having to deal with. It's putting a lot of the questions on Scarleteen in perspective.

I think a big protective factor for me in this climate was identifying as queer at a young age and, to a certain extent, having queer role models. Growing up, I never identified with women, so wanting my body to match (female) supermodels was never an ideal.

[ 01-26-2009, 02:31 PM: Message edited by: bluejumprope ]

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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Heather
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I feel that way -- about coming of age bisexual, and not the kind where anyone applauded me, either, or thought it was sexy -- myself, bluejumprope. Loving the bodies of other women, rather than coveting them, or being envious of them, is something I have long credited with my doing pretty well with body image.

But too, by all means, I don't think I would have done so well coming of age now versus when I did, no matter my orientation. Again, I do think things were better when it came to body image and sexuality in the late 70's, 80's and some of the 90's.

Then again, who knows: maybe teens now, in twenty years, will look back and feel like THIS was a more golden age. One hopes not -- since that'll mean things got a lot worse -- but you never know.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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