This is a class blog run by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and her students in the course "Telenovelas, Culture and Society" at the University of Georgia during Spring 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

victim of superficiality

I'd like to share something that I've recently begun to notice in my workplace. As a disclaimer this is not intended as a stereotypical or racist blog merely an observation which I have also discussed with my fiance, who agrees that vanity is a bit of an epidemic in his culture. You see I work in a restaurant and I personally am not one to waste my make up and hair care products unnecessarily. This means that my pre-work preparation consists of a shower a ponytail holder and my uniform. No make-up, not straightening no jewelry. However all of the other females I work with seem to put a significant amount of effort into their appearance and though they are required to wear their hair up while at work they nonetheless proceed to straighten it and apply a full face of make up. Well that being said I've never really cared whether I look attractive at work because quite frankly I'm not trying to impress anyone. The only people who's opinion of my appearance I really care bout are my fiance's and my own. Well recently I've noticed the females I work with "subtly" attacking me and my appearance through snide remarks like this one "Oh I looked at some of your pictures on facebook and it doesn't even look like you, you must only put the really good pictures on facebook." I mentioned this to my fiance and he was a bit infuriated and then proceeded to rant about the superficiality and jealousy in his race. I just find it interesting because yes it's true snide remarks such as this are to be expected from females of all cultures however the women I work with seem to deny the existence of natural beauty. It's as if they believe that without makeup and everything it's not possible to be attractive. I asked my fiance about why he thinks this sort of vanity exists and he said that in his opinion he believes it's because the perceptions and roles of women has made even less progress in hispanic countries than it has in the U.S. therefore putting more focus on physical appearance than other aspects of personality. I suppose this does make sense because not too long ago when women were more discriminated against there was significantly more emphasis on there appearance and less often was it acceptable for a women to walk out of the house without fixing herself. I haven't yet reached any sort of conclusion about this at this point its just something I've observed that has quite frankly begun to irritate me. I suppose once I do come to some sort of conclusion about this topic I will expand but as of now it is what it is I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post! I think it's very reasonable of you to observe and question the views of another culture regarding beauty, a woman's place in society, etc. These are very real and serious issues that should always be addressed and challenged. However, that being said, I do have some issues with you and your fiance's analysis of the situation:

    1. I find it very hard to criticize another culture's sexist views WITHOUT recognizing the we too live in a very sexist culture. While it may be true that "perceptions and roles of women [have] made even less progress" in Spanish speaking countries than in the US, it seems shortsighted to assume that they are the ones who put "more focus on physical appearance than other aspects of personality," not us. I offer several recent Super Bowl ads as examples:

    Often, our culture too views women only as objects of desire. Each of these ads displays a woman being desirable for only one reason: her physical looks, NOT her personality. By criticizing other cultures without recognizing our own culture's same problems, we falsely place ourselves on a pedestal of moral superiority. This is very dangerous, and hinders progress toward woman's rights here in the states.

    2. I think it is impossible to draw conclusions about an entire race/group of people based on the behavior of a few. This is certainly not to say that these problems don't exist, because they do. However, the women at your job cannot be seen as representative of everyone that speaks Spanish, lives south of our border, etc. The word Hispanic ( is a very politically charged term invented in the 1970 census. It refers to all people of Spanish speaking countries, a VERY broad group that contains hundreds of vastly different cultures. "Hispanic" is not a race, nor a culture.

    This is a very serious question to be tackled, however. The sexism present in my telenovela, in my group of friends in the US, and when I have traveled to Latin America, is all despicable.
    None is better or worse than others. To associate it with only one culture is a problem.

    Thank you so much for bringing this issue into the broader discourse of this class blog!! I was really intrigued by your analysis, and hope to hear more from you on the subject! Sorry if my post seems like an attack, it certainly isn't meant to be that. This is a topic that needs to be brought up more in our analysis of telenovelas, and you are spot on in bringing it up.