The film presents the themes of cosmetic surgery, objectification and representations of sexuality differently, one from the others. Cosmetic surgery is a medical procedure carried out to change, mainly by improving the appearance of someone. It involves redesigning the body’s contours and shape, smoothening wrinkles and removing bald areas (Őry et al., 2022). In the film, it is presented as a way in which people deal with conflict in self-identity when the discomfort comes from their physical looks. Objectification is presented as an inhuman way to treat others because it involves degrading them to the status of an object. On the other hand, sexuality is presented as historically heterosexual and oppressive to nonconformers. The film portrays sexuality and relatives and is open to an individual’s decisions.
Immersing in a toxic cultural environment refers to a person’s existence in a society or environment that promotes and normalizes harmful behaviours, attitudes and values (Cogburn, 2019). It implies that a person’s being in such as environment influences their behaviour and beliefs negatively as they adopt the norms of such a society. Toxicity can manifest in several ways, including endorsing violence, fostering dehumanization and objectification and perpetuating negative stereotypes and biases.
The relationship between dehumanization, objectification and violence is one of cascading cause and consequence. This implies that dehumanization causes objectification which ends up causing, among other vices, violence. Dehumanization involves treating people as less dignified individuals unworthy of as many human rights and empathy entitlement. Lacking human value in people may lead someone to perceive them as objects, emphasizing their physical appearance or utility and overlooking their intrinsic worth (Őry et al., 2022). This perception of human beings often makes people feel more entitled than others and have a superiority complex which can be triggered by a disagreement or contention to cause violence. Objectification orchestrated by dehumanization is one of the causes wars occur since generals view their subjects as objects to defend their interests.
The current images in popular media that address the stereotypes of passive and vulnerable include portraying women in political and business leadership, being action heroes in movies and comics, and others being influential in bringing change and revolutionizing the status quo. This presentation of women seeks to empower them by challenging traditional patriarchy. These images differ from those traditionally told in advertising because they are non-conforming to the stereotypical view of women and men, especially regarding roles and personalities. Advertisers appeal to the norm and tradition in society by reinforcing public perceptions about gender and avoiding being confrontational and liberal.
Other images that might allow a more diversified understanding of femininity are the portrayal of the actual strengths of women without the goal of presenting them as inferior or superior. A balanced view of femininity would seek to present women as a vital part of the entire society and best suited at specific actions because of their strengths and require the assistance of men when they are weak. The objectification of men in advertising can make them feel uncomfortable with their bodies, which puts them under pressure to conform to the idealized masculinity standards (Lennon & Johnson, 2021). When a man knows they are not in the physical or emotional state considered ideal for men, it causes dissatisfaction with their body and affects their self-esteem. The unrealistic expectations from society intensify their security, leading to depression and anxiety (Lennon & Johnson, 2021).
The surprising thing to me was the amount of effect that issues that society has normalized have adverse impacts on people. To both men and women, the presentation of extreme expectations from them amplifies any conflict they might have internally about their self-sufficiency. What did not surprise me was the reality of perceived ideal standards for men as there are for women. While women might be considered objects of objectification for a long time, the reality that there are idealized standards for men, too, is worth considering.
Cogburn, C. D. (2019). Culture, race, and health: Implications for racial inequities and population health. The Milbank Quarterly, 97(3), 736-761.
Lennon, S. J., & Johnson, K. K. (2021). Men and muscularity research: A review. Fashion and Textiles, 8(1), 1-21.
Őry, F., Láng, A., & Meskó, N. (2022). Acceptance of cosmetic surgery in adolescents: The effects of caregiver eating messages and objectified body consciousness. Current Psychology, 1-9.