Sunday, January 18, 2015

An Open Letter to Chanel West Coast, from a mother with feminist inclinations.

I don't have cable, because hello, it's the 21st century. I have the internet. And also, I'm broke. That being said, it took a while for me to find out about a show on MTV called Rediculousness. Over at my neighbors house, it came on. I watched a few episodes.

Now, I can talk about this show all day. But I'm not here to talk about the show, itself. I'm here to talk to Chanel West Coast, the beautiful young woman dubbed the "Female Voice" of the show, who rarely does any actual talking.

Dear Chanel West Coast,

I saw you on TV the other day. You were the only female on stage, and you were asked to make some commentary on a video that had just been played. It seemed everyone expected you to say something dumb, because they all acted surprised when you said something intelligent. You were badass about it, and told them that you were actually pretty smart. I openly cheered when I heard you say this.

Look, you are young, and pretty. I get it. I used to be that way, too. I used to buy into the belief that my value as a person coincided with my physical appearance, namely, my sex appeal. I used to think my body was more important than my mind and opinions. I was raised that way, and you were raised that way, and we were all raised that way through marketing, through advertising, through our western culture and its value on the physical body. I used to torture and starve my body so that I could feel relief from the pressure to be 'ideal'. To be worthwhile. To matter.

Now, I have a daughter. Her name is Story, and she's ten months old. She's just a baby. I control her entire world at this time in her life, but one day, I won't. One day, she'll turn on a TV and find a show like Rediculousness, see the only female onstage portrayed as beautiful but nothing else, and feel like her place in life is first and foremost to be pretty. This is not any one person's fault. This is the fault of our culture. By the  very first time she turns on a show that stereotypes women, she will have already been exposed to thousands, probably millions, of versions of that same message: Pretty matters. I see these messages on every "Pink and pretty" piece of shit I come across in a toy store, and in the cartoons kids today are watching. In the clothes they are wearing. In the advertising they are saturated in from birth.

Story, and plenty of other little girls like her, will learn that how much her voice is listened to is related to how much skin she shows. She'll learn that the only way to make the world around her to her advantage is by being 'beautiful.' That beauty is the golden ticket.

We, as women, are the only ones who can put an end to this cycle. Not advertisers. Not MTV. Us. Women. It starts with women like you, Chanel West Coast. I know MTV is not paying you to do anything beyond fill the role of stage eye candy, and I understand and respect your desire to fill that role. but you've been given a platform. You can show that you are smart and that your opinions do matter. Instead of being another blow of the hammer to the nail that is the pretty female stereotype, you can be an inspiration to a young girl with a remote in her hand. By refusing to fill the role society and the entertainment business hands you, you can claim your own life. Be your own master. Show girls like Story that being smart and strong are essential to being beautiful.