Thursday, February 19, 2015

Disney Princess's Impossible Proportions

While scrolling through Buzzfeed, I found a picture that made stop and take a second glance. The article was entitled "Pop Princesses Photoshopped To Have Disney Princess Proportions." This is what singer Taylor Swift would look like if she had the same body proportions as a Disney animated princess.

As you can see, a real-life person looks laughable with these proportions. Her waist is basically the same size as her neck and her eyes look about the size of tennis balls. After I got over how ridiculous she looked, I started to think about the implication this has. These animated princesses are drawn so unrealistically and it's sending the wrong message. I thought Barbie proportions were bad, but these princesses are on a whole different level.

What young, impressionable kids are seeing on screen really does impact them later on. It has an influence on beauty stereotypes they'll grow up thinking, because their favorite Disney princess has an impossibly thin waist, toothpick legs and arms, and gigantic eyes. Parents are feeding their children these beauty standards without even realizing it.

And we don't really see the same thing with men. The Guardian had an interesting article about this topic regarding male love interests in Disney animated films, saying they "may have puffed-up chests and broad shoulders, but their proportions are at least feasible. Half the male Olympic swimmers could pass for Disney princes." It might be a little more understandable if characters were all being drawn so exaggerated, but it's only the women! It seems like men's bodies are being exaggerated with the large muscles and broader shoulders, while women characters are exaggerated by being made extra meager and small.

Why are these princesses being drawn like this? Is Disney afraid if they put a princess on screen who has a normal woman's body proportions that the kids won't enjoy the movie? It seems like a terribly easy fix. Disney has the power to influence kids, and they could use this power in a really good way (like drawing princesses who have a healthy person's waistline), but they're using it to do the opposite. They're enforcing these impossible beauty standards when it seems so easy to just draw a princess with a waist a few inches thicker.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

73 Years of Lynchings

          The Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recently released a report that uncovered the astonishing number of victims of "racial terror lynchings" from 1877 to 1950 in 12 Southern States. The number: 3,959. 
          It’s such an astounding number and seems even more appalling to me once I learned there are only a few markers acknowledging lynching sites in the U.S. We need to make more of an effort to acknowledge and attempt to make reparations for the horrors that took place in this country at that time. I think learning the actual number of victims will push us in the right direction.

          The timing of the release is also interesting. The report being released in February (Black History Month) I’m guessing was no coincidence. Maybe this report was released at the time when most people would be in the right mindset to hear it, and perhaps take action to do something.

          Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, says that the lynchings “were not about administering popular justice, but terrorizing a community." I believe what he is saying has a lot of truth to it, not just relating to the lynchings, but a larger theme: using fear (terror) to show who is in control in a society. Stevenson says these lynchings were really about executing people for violating the racial hierarchy.” Speaking to someone the wrong way could mean life or death for African Americans at this time. It wasn't about whether they really committed a crime or not; it was about white supremacy. 

This is so similar to Arthur Miller's The Crucible, with people being lynched if they were suspected of going against authority. In times of fear and change, a lot of people felt they needed power and this was their way of showing which race was in control. 

I hope more actions are taken in an attempt to make people more aware of these tragic times. They can serve as a reminder of what we need to work on as a nation.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Measles Vaccine: Personal Beliefs versus Science

A recent outbreak of measles has many worried. We thought the disease was essentially gone; but it is making a fast comeback, with over 600 cases in the U.S. in the last year. So why are so many choosing not to vaccinate their children? People are led to be afraid of vaccines. In a video on the New York Times website, they beg the question: how did we get to a point where personal beliefs can triumph over science?

Some believe that vaccines cause autism, a claim that actress Jenny McCarthy has been a part of making popular. She claims her son became autistic as a result of the vaccination. Her proof, her “science” as she says in an interview with Oprah, is her son. But we can’t take these stories and accept them as scientific proof. And we tend to do this a lot when we’re talking about celebrities. 

About 94% of the population must be vaccinated in order to keep measles from spreading. We need to keep in mind the affects disease has when it spreads. Though some think it is a personal choice not to vaccinate their child, they really are in danger of harming the larger population by allowing it to be spread.