How this article came about.
I had a very interesting experience recently. I was party to a comment on social media on a popular program that noted that the women on it were wearing prominent hair extensions and were, at least in my opinion, barely contributing to the programmes format despite it being apparently alternative and feminist in its viewpoint.
Extensions, don’t mention.
I was surprised at the extensions and wondered why such outspoken, funny and attractive women should choose to have false hair too. I may be wrong, perhaps they wanted to wear acres of hot false hair. I cannot rule that out. Whether my view was correct is a matter of conjecture, but the interesting thing was that the comment was first deleted and then when repeated was blocked from following the main contributor on the programme. Perhaps the comment seemed rude but it is interesting that freedom to comment was curtailed when it addressed appearance.
I found it interesting that my commenting on the wearing of hair extensions was somehow extremely controversial.
Media objectification excused as fashion!
This got me to thinking about media objectification of women.
I am not talking about the sort of hair extensions and wigs worn by black and other women as a fashion statement or even a political statement or for reasons of ill health.
The issue of being black and hair is a big issue and one I cannot cover here, save to say that India Ari’s song about Hair says it all. Perhaps I will cover it sometime. The issue of the individual hairstyles and hair of black women and how that is regarded in the workplace is a whole article on its own.
No, I am talking about hidden hair, hair that is supposed to look real. Hair that is discreetly added in shampoo commercials, photoshoots and which is not even a fashion statement but is added by wardrobe to make the female concerned look more desirable, with luscious fake locks added to make a fuller head of enviable hair.
The politics of envy and why envy is politically necessary!
I had often wondered why I envied the hair of women in movies until I realised that practically all of them have added hair. Hair that is supposed to be seen as real and designed to be the envy of ordinary mortals who simply cannot get their hair to look like that. Well the secret is out, most of the hair is fake. Check the underside of female hair in the movies and you will see long locks over the shoulder that it would be impossible for practically any mortal to grow naturally.
See how many you can spot you will be shocked!
Take a week out and start spotting fake locks designed to look real and you will find them everywhere from mainstream tv, commercials and film and media.
Of course, objectifying women has had to become more subtle as discerning viewers begin to recognise it. So huge boobs, plunging necklines and layers of slap have gradually been replaced by more subtle and sinister forms of objectification.
Unnecassary hair for no reason than improvement
Air brushing, CGI and visual effects are used to add or subtract inches from women’s bodies in magazines and movies, and finally the enormous carbon footprint of fake hair masquerading as real. I am not talking wigs to create a particular character, it is unnecessary hair, of no value save to ‘improve’ the wearer.
How is this relevant to bullying and the workplace.
So how does this affect women in the workplace and what is the relationship to bullying? Well objectification, remodelling, repurposing and redesigning women in media is a form of bullying. Some may well wear fake hair because they like it, but I suspect many wear it because they are told to or feel they cannot make the grade if they do not compete in the looks department.
I cannot deny that male remodelling is also taking place but not on the scale or magnitude of female remodelling.
Women in the media are women are at work. The unhealthy obsession with female remodelling in media is offensive because it denies real women the opportunity to be truly real if they want to be. It is why women are paid less in film and media and why they have much less weight in the working world than men.
Pro-choice but also pro-voice
I am pro-choice, I have worn wigs for fun myself, but I knew I was doing it, it was open and not a guilty little beauty secret, like stuffing tissue down ones bra.
Many people will not agree with me, I was roundly insulted for having the temerity to challenge the growing requirement for intelligent wonderful working women to have a ‘certain’ look. A look that is compiled of much that is not real and much that pressures ordinary women to try to emulate the airbrushed, inch reduced, cgi’d versions in the media. I do not apologise for that opinion.
The pressure to be perfect is in itself the ultimate form of bullying. The need for an entire gender, particularly in western corporate society, to be something they are not is neither fair or enlightened.