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Thread: Beauty & The Beast Syndrome

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    FORT Fogey lambikins's Avatar
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    Beauty & The Beast Syndrome

    Average Joe is winding down and we have lost all or most of our favorite contestants. Although the show was advertised as "As Princess finding True Love with the Average Joe," it wasn't until the second airing that the logo of the 'beautiful princess' was inserted, kissing the mythical 'frog', turning his ugliness into acceptable beauty.

    But, where do we get these beliefs? Certainly not as kids, where some of our most cherished cuddle toys: TeleTubbies, Sesame Street, etc, are grotesquely 'ugly' beasts. It's the sly and careful programing that goes into the making of each and every one of us.

    So many on this site, (myself included) are sad that Hunks had to be added to the mix to make for 'better' viewing. We feel cheated, believing that maybe THIS time, the Hunchback could have gotten the girl. But as Willow Rosenberg said in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Oh, no, he could neverget the girl...he had to many bumps and ridges on his face!

    There's also been a bit of speculation on this board about the likelyhood of "Average Jane", where an average woman (translate: Ugly/Hopeless) is allowed to pick her Prince among men. After reading the attached article, I doubt we'll ever see that.

    Some interesting food for thought while we're still digesting Thanksgiving leftovers.
    ****************************** *******************
    Beauty's in the Eye of the Bookholder

    Fairy tales may damage girls' self-esteem, study says

    By Serena Gordon
    HealthDay Reporter

    MONDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDayNews) -- As you tuck your daughter into bed tonight, you may want to think twice about what bedtime story to read to her.

    Classic fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, are loaded with subtle -- and many not so subtle -- messages that beauty is inherently good and should be rewarded, while people who are ugly are evil, wicked and mean.

    These messages may have more of an effect on girls and their self-esteem than parents realize, new research contends.

    "Parents need to be aware that all literature is teaching children something, and we should be aware what those messages are," says study coauthor Liz Grauerholz, an associate professor of sociology at Purdue University. "You need to raise questions and have a dialogue with your children about the meaning of these fairy tales."

    Grauerholz says that's exactly what she did with her own daughters. "I didn't want my daughters to think they were only valuable for their looks," she says.

    For this study, Grauerholz and her colleague, Lori Baker-Sperry from Western Illinois University, analyzed 168 fairy tales written in the 1800s by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm -- popularly known as the Brothers Grimm. Nearly half of these tales have been reproduced in children's books and movies.

    Five of the most popular tales are: Cinderella, Snow White, Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), Little Red Cap (Little Red Riding Hood) and Hansel and Gretel.

    Grauerholz says she wanted to document how girls and women are portrayed in these fairy tales. Results of the study appear in a recent issue of the journal Gender and Society.

    The researchers found 94 percent of the stories talked about physical appearance, and there were an average of almost 14 references to appearance per story. There were many more references to women's beauty than to men -- one story referred to male physical appearance 35 times versus 114 times for women's beauty.

    And, those who weren't beautiful didn't fare well in the Grimm Brothers' tales. Nearly 20 percent of the stories linked being ugly with being evil. Also, in many stories, ugly people were punished, the study finds.

    Does this mean you should pull beloved fairy tales off your youngster's bookshelf? No, says Grauerholz, you just need to offer your children another point of view and help them think about the messages in these tales.

    With young children, she recommends changing the stories. Tell Cinderella to your child as if she were male. Or change the ending so she decides the prince wasn't right for her after all and lived happily ever after by making her own life.

    Grauerholz points out that the messages in these tales are very similar to messages your children receive from today's popular media.

    "We are so bombarded with this message [that beauty is good], it becomes invisible," says Grauerholz. But, she says children are picking up on it.

    "This is quite a comprehensive problem," notes child psychologist Robin Goodman, from the New York University Child Study Center. "Media advertising, pop stars, TV, peer interaction -- there are so many things other than fairy tales working against women, and boys are also getting messages on how to treat girls."

    She says she doesn't believe that fairy tales are the root of the problem, but that they do reinforce certain stereotypes. And, like Grauerholz, she doesn't think banning the books is the solution.

    "These stereotypes exist, so you better help your children deal with them," says Goodman. "Tackle stereotypes head on, as early and as often as you can. They're not going away, so equip your children with ways to deal with them."

    Goodman also points out that not all of the messages in fairy tales are negative. In Beauty and the Beast, the heroine learns to love the Beast for who he is, not what he looks like.



    Copyright 2003 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.
    Last updated 11/24/2003



    SOURCES: Liz Grauerholz, Ph.D., associate professor, sociology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; Robin Goodman, Ph.D., psychologist, New York University Child Study Center, and clinical associate professor, psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, and director, Aboutourkids.org, New York City; October 2003 Gender and Society

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    FORT Fogey overthetop's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=lambikins]
    So many on this site, (myself included) are sad that Hunks had to be added to the mix to make for 'better' viewing. We feel cheated, believing that maybe THIS time, the Hunchback could have gotten the girl.


    They didn't add the models because there weren't enough good looking people on the show! The models were added so we could see if the relationships that Melana was working on with the average joes would be shattered by the introduction of head-turning good looks. If the show had been Melana and just average joes, we (and she) would never know if looks are more important to her than personality.

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    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    Please provide links to the original content when posting articles from news sites, unless the article is from the AP or Reuters. Thanks!

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    FORT Fogey lambikins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overthetop
    They didn't add the models because there weren't enough good looking people on the show! The models were added so we could see if the relationships that Melana was working on with the average joes would be shattered by the introduction of head-turning good looks. If the show had been Melana and just average joes, we (and she) would never know if looks are more important to her than personality.
    But see, that's my point, exactly. In Fairy tales, girls are taught that 'ordinary' equals 'ugly' or boring. In fact, to introduce the Evil!Character in many tales, the truly ugly of spirit is cloaked in Beauty: whether it's a poisoned apple, a poisoned drink or the murderer.

    All you have to do to "see if the relationships that Melana was working on" were working, was to see the light in her eyes when first the hunks appeared and second, when they disrobed for the hoops game.

    I knew that poor John was the first to go when she answered to that model, that her "average joe" started at 6'2". He could be as glib as he wanted; unless he wanted to take Growth Hormones, he and the other Average Joes just can't compete.

    Someone said that Adam and Zach look enough alike to know that THAT is what she fancies: tall, dark...and handsome. No matter what jive talkin' she did for the show's initial blurb, the girl wants a Prince, even a jerky Prince will do, 'cause ya know...Boyz will be Boyz!

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    Anarchist AJane's Avatar
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    Welcome to my diatribe

    As mom to two girls - I must respond. My kids have books and movies with Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and yes, even the dreaded Barbie. Are all these heroines physically beautiful? Yes. Is much made of their physical beauty in their respective stories? Yes. However - they have other, redeeming qualities (if one considers beauty something to apologize for). The fairy-tale characters are all good-hearted, compassionate people. The Little Mermaid and "Beauty" show courage and rebel against the status quo in their worlds. In all three Barbie movies (for those of you who don't know - yes, Barbie is now a computer-animated video star) the characters Barbie portrays have similar qualities to the Mermaid and Beauty, and like them, "save" their princes from the bad guys. They give as good as they get.

    Now, does my 4-year old get that her beloved heroines have strong, independent qualities that have nothing to do with their looks? Nah, not really. She likes the pretty dresses they wear. Do I "reinforce" that beauty is inside, not just outside? Of course, and I and try to provide a decent role model. But hey, kids like stories with happy endings (I tried reading her the original Little Mermaid story - she was horrified and stuffed the book at the bottom of the stack). She likes Shrek too, she doesn't care that the princess ended up as an ogre.

    And what does all this have to do with Average Joe, you ask? Well, if fairy tales are my kids' guilty pleasure, then Average Joe and it's ilk are mine. No, I don't have a lot of faith in Melana's depth when it comes to choosing a mate (although she does have some pretty outfits, lol).

    Let's face it, these dating reality shows are really just fairy tales for grownups, except the "handsome princes" turn out to have many frog-like traits (are you listening, Bachelor Bob?) and they dole out promise rings instead of promising true love forever. But this is the 21st century...we "princesses" (average janes or cheerleaders) don't really expect anything more.

    Now this modern-day princess is off to find some more coffee - someone here was up all night with the baby and it sure wasn't the resident prince, lol
    All my life, I have felt destiny tugging at my sleeve.~ Thursday Next
    I don't want to "go with the flow". The flow just washes you down the drain. I want to fight the flow.- Henry Rollins
    All this spiritual talk is great and everything...but at the end of the day, there's nothing like a pair of skinny jeans. - Jillian Michaels

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    daydream believer Gypsy Rose's Avatar
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    lambikins, I'm reading on the run these days, with no time to post, but just wanted to say that I really enjoy the thoughtful nature of your posts!

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    FORT Fogey lambikins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gypsy Rose
    lambikins, I'm reading on the run these days, with no time to post, but just wanted to say that I really enjoy the thoughtful nature of your posts!
    ^ Thank you, Gypsy Rose!

    averagejane: "I tried reading her the original Little Mermaid story - she was horrified and stuffed the book at the bottom of the stack"

    Your story made me roar. It reminds me of a sketch that Billy Connelly did, of where he took his two daughters on a cross country trip through America's Great West. They had a comfortable, modern mini-van, lacking no convienences. After seeing the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Ocean, the Redwoods, Billy asked his youngest daughter what her favorite part of the trip was. She thought about it, hard, and then said, "Sesame Street!", the DVD that played in the back counsole! Kids! Whatch' gonna do!?

    Going back on topic; a client of mine is one of the top two broadcasters in Chicago. Naturally, her other friends are in the broadcast field. When one of her anchors got pregnant and they knew it was going to be a girl, my client 'strongly' suggested to Carole that she not allow any "female stereotypes" in the house, such as the B-word (Barbie); Little Mermaid; Pocahontas, etc.

    So, Carole followed her friend's advice. Three years later, she's given up and all the 'girly' crap in the world fills her daughters room. Why? Because each and every time that she brought her daughter into a store, she'd go for the dolls, tea sets and sparkly tutus. Carole decided that it was easier to have her daughter make up her own mind about stereotypes than try to buck the system.

    I can't say how I feel about this. Carole's friend feels that she sold out.

    I just wish the networks would have the balls to have a show, with the opening scenes showing a size 16 woman, bounding down the beach with a houseful of Jason's waiting back at the Hacienda, waiting to win her fair hand. Now, that would be the Fairy Tale!!

  8. #8
    Peeking In Duxxy's Avatar
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    I agree with most of what has been said here. It's important for us to build our children's self esteem, no matter if they are male or female. I never limit my 3 year old daughter to any play things (besides guns, swords and the like) She has dolls and trucks and sometimes the big burly truck driver is wearing a sparkly pink tutu. And my daughter will say to me 'Isn't he just lovely?'
    If you want to put your hands on a book that reinforces a strong female heroine this is the book that you want.
    Paperbag Princess Its by a Canadian author Robert Munsch. It's excellent. The princess tricks the dragon, saves the prince and sends him on his way when he has the nerve to tell her that her apperance is lacking. Its won some sort of feminist award, but your children won't care. Its a funny and quick story.

    I was hoping that this show would be different... I guess there is just no network out there that is willing to boldly go where no one has before. I guess they feel that a show isnt a show without the 'beautiful people'
    Sometimes beauty is only skin deep and it does not radiate from the inside.

    Paper bag Princess - Amazon.com

    Stephanie's Ponytail - Another good one, celebrating a girl's choice to be unique and unfettered by peer pressure
    Last edited by Duxxy; 11-28-2003 at 02:00 PM.
    "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."

  9. #9
    Anarchist AJane's Avatar
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    We need a thread on the difficulties of raising socially conscious daughters

    Personally, I can hardly wait to find out who trashes the "fat cousin" - will Zack be the main offender or one of the "models"? I'm not really liking Jason and whatshisname limo guy, but it would be very cool if they didn't talk any trash about her behind her back, wouldn't it?

    Just an aside - a plus-size female friend of mine married a former male model - they've been married for years and have kids together. Not quite a fairy tale but it goes to show you that there are a few princes around.
    All my life, I have felt destiny tugging at my sleeve.~ Thursday Next
    I don't want to "go with the flow". The flow just washes you down the drain. I want to fight the flow.- Henry Rollins
    All this spiritual talk is great and everything...but at the end of the day, there's nothing like a pair of skinny jeans. - Jillian Michaels

  10. #10
    Anarchist AJane's Avatar
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    P.S. Duxxy thanks for the links - I'm going to check out the Munsch book for my kids - he is a great childrens' author.
    All my life, I have felt destiny tugging at my sleeve.~ Thursday Next
    I don't want to "go with the flow". The flow just washes you down the drain. I want to fight the flow.- Henry Rollins
    All this spiritual talk is great and everything...but at the end of the day, there's nothing like a pair of skinny jeans. - Jillian Michaels

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