Rachel's Blog

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Body Image in the Media

We see images of women everywhere we look today. We view them on magazine covers, on television, on billboards, and in the hundreds of thousands of advertisements we come across on a daily basis. The majority of the women we view are thin, tall, have large breasts, small waists and virtually no fat on their bodies, not to mention, their faces are flawless. Media portrays these women as what all women should look like. However, with technologies such as air brushing, women do not see the real picture. This belief that media helps cause the insecurities of women in regards to their body image is prevalent. An article in womenshealth.gov reads: "Why are so many women unhappy with their bodies? Women in the U.S. are under pressure to measure up to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty, which can lead to poor body image. We are bombarded with media images of female bodies that are extremely thin and with flawless features. These images can reinforce an already negative image a woman might have of her body, leading her to believe she is overweight and not able to meet the American standard." (womenshealth.gov).
Why does the media use these images to portray women? A report by Robin Gerber suggests a variety of reasons. She writes;
"The roots, some analysts say, are economic. By presenting an ideal difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. And it’s no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty. If not all women need to lose weight, for sure they’re all aging, says the Quebec Action Network for Women’s Health in its 2001 report Changements sociaux en faveur de la diversité des images corporelles. And, according to the industry, age is a disaster that needs to be dealt with." (Gerber). Her account of why the media throws these images in our face is troubling when these unattainable characteristics cause many women to fast, diet, throw up, and never reach their goal. Gerber’s article stated that now, young girls at the age of nine have eating disorders due to insecurities about their body image.
The media’s economic approach to women’s body image is successful. Media target women to buy cosmetics, dieting supplements, weight loss equipment including videos, certain foods such as Special K (lose six pounds in two weeks), and apparel designed to make our bodies look thinner. We spend this money with one goal in common, that we might look half as good to as good as the models we see on the magazines, billboards, ads, and TV.
To touch on Gerber’s point that women now not only seek perfect bodies, but perfect faces too, tons of ads for acne products and microdermabrasian hypnotize our brains. One company, ProActive Solutions actually uses celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, P Diddy, Vanessa Williams, Alicia Keys, and others to promote their product. These celebrities appear on our television screen expressing their struggles with acne and how we too can have perfect skin like they now do. As nice as this idea sounds, we must take into consideration that these celebrities have make up artists and skin technicians on hand almost everywhere they go.
Although these ads and magazines deliver an unattainable image to achieve, the media should not be solely blamed for women’s bad body image. "Other pressure can come from people in our lives. Family and friends can influence a woman’s body image with positive and negative comments. Doctors can also have a powerful impact on body image. Their comments, in particular, might be delivered as health advice but can be misinterpreted and affect how a woman perceives and feels about her body. As a result, the way women feel about their bodies can impact their physical and emotional health. Women with a poor body image may try to lose weight in unhealthy ways, restrict their eating, develop eating disorders, and have low self-esteem." (womenshealth.gov). This article reveals that women’s insecurity stem from many venues.
However, the media plays a crucial role in misrepresenting how a woman should look. Their air brushed, too thin, abnormally proportioned women, if real, only make up a small percentage of the population. Most women have curves and will never again wear a size zero or two after they have children if they ever did. Women must also recognize that to look like the women in the ads in not a realistic goal and embrace their bodies as they are.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Growing up (the beginning of a rant)

As the youngest child and the only girl, my parents weigh me down with responsibilities that at times seem uncalled for or unreasonable. I am the first person in my family to go to college and soon graduate, and I made the choice to go to school partly on my own and partly because my parents coaxed me into it. Frankly, when I graduated high school I felt conflicted about the next step in my life. I knew I needed to attend college because in today’s workforce we need degrees. I simply remained clueless as to where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do once I got there.
I ended up at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) for my first two years of school and absolutely hated it. The massive campus and 400 students in each class scared and confused me. In schools like that, unless we make a massive impact, we exist as another number in the roster. I decided my second year that I needed to move on from VCU and go somewhere that I wanted to go. I read about Randolph-Macon and ate at Suzanne’s with my boyfriend at the time, and I decided that RMC could be the place for me.
I made a difficult decision when I decided to come here because I knew that an expensive school might push me deeper into obligations toward my already overbearing parents. My mom tends to throw guilt trips on me for anything. My dad felt uneasy about the money situation and only offered to pay a minute fraction of the cost. I felt tied to them and as if I must do everything they wanted me to. Unlike other college students, I stayed home out of respect for my mother’s wishes. I also refrained from outlandish partying and worked for the company my mom works for because she wanted me to. Her demands only led me to resent her.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fatal Tornado Crushes Chucktown

An F-3 Tornado ripped through a portion of Chucktown killing at least 3 people and demolishing houses as well as, Adams Elementary School.
The three victims have identified as 16-year-old Rhonda Tracey, 36-year-old Victor Jones, and former Chucktown mayor 57-year-old Julie Rudiani.
The tornado touched down at 10:59 AM, only 8 minutes after the warning sirens went off. The tornado had winds up to 180 miles per hour and sustained winds of 165 miles per hour. It traveled northeast for approximately 2 miles and caused extensive damage in its path.
County coordinator of the Emergency and Disaster Agency, Axel Dent said "Adams Elementary School is basically down to a couple of walls left standing."
Adams Elementary School was closed that day due to a faculty work day. School Principal, Jerrie Potter was at the school when the tornado hit. Potter said "I heard the sirens go off, but I kept working, then at around 10:30 AM I heard what sounded like a freight train."
As the ceiling caved in above her, she sought safety underneath of her desk. She came out of the ruins with only a few scratches, but some of her associates suffered more serious injuries.
The worst of the injured was Thomas Tibbits, the school guidance counselor who was buried by bricks and lumber when they found him and bleeding from his head and legs. He was taken away in an ambulance to receive surgery for internal bleeding.
The school was attended by 300 students and 25 faculty members. Classes have been cancelled until the school can find a temporary location.
Another victim of the Tornado, Kathryn Koffee, Assistant Vice President of the 3rd National Bank of Chucktown, said "It was the most scary thing that ever happened in my life, my first thought was I gotta get the kids."
She and her children sought shelter from the storm in the bedroom closet and stayed there until the howling winds subsided. When they came out there was nothing left. "It looked like a war zone, completely flattened."
Damages to the town due to the tornado include $125-150,000 in residential damage as well as $10-12 million in damage to the overall area.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I feel like a member of several diverse communities. I exist as a member of the community at Randolph Macon College, at my job at Essex Insurance, and in smaller communities such as a member of the RMC Chambers Singers, Jazz Vocal Singers, and Choir (all three distinctly different communities), as well as member of the community within my group of friends outside of college. All of these groups carry different weight, in that, some groups are more formal than others and the people that compose these different communities play different roles in my life and my role differs in association with these communities.
Randolph Macon, as a whole, acts as a more formal community for me. Since, I don’t live on campus, I spend most of my interaction there studying with others or taking classes with others. However, certain niches of communities through RMC provide me with an informal community. Through Chambers and Jazz Vocal, we work hard, but we all interact on more of a friend level. Most of us are ages’ 19-22 and have similar interests in a career path. We tend to get along really well even when we don’t want to. Many members are music majors or minors, but not all which makes the environment a comfortable one.
I joined the RMC choir a year ago because a member of this community told me I should, and that advice changed my life at Randolph Macon. Before I joined this community, I lacked the outlet to get to know very many people from the school on a more personal level. Now, I feel that I managed to make some incredible friendships, and I feel more in tune with the whole Randolph Macon community.
Another more formal community I joined about three years ago is "the world of insurance" at Essex Insurance Corporation. What I was thinking when I decided to join this community, I have no idea, except that I needed money desperately! This particular community troubles me more than any other. I hate and I mean that in the strongest sense of the word, the community of people that encompass that office. It acts as a festering ground for people with money to look down on those without it, and for people without money to pretend that they actually have it. Rarely, have I met a person in this community whom I consider an honest, sincerely kind, and interesting individual. Most of the people I connect with in this community have ulterior motives or wear two faces.
In this community, similar to many others, the members strive to get what they want at any cost and no matter who they must climb over to get it. It, being a promotion, a raise, or something as simple as a stapler that actually works. In this community, penis equals power, meaning that a man has a much better chance of being promoted or just coming into a position than a woman with the same qualifications. Not only that, a man, in an "equal" position to that of a woman, receives better pay. The "man’s world" mentality dominates many of these career-based communities, so this community simply provides the world with another example of that.
Finally, possibly my favorite community, embodies my community of friends outside of Randolph Macon. I joined this community when I was in high school, and therefore, have stayed a member for a long time. I met these friends through work and school, one in particular, my friend Jorge acts as a sort of social director for the whole community. Over the years this community has maintained its strong roots, which might come as a surprise when we consider how many highschool friends actually remain friends after they get out of highschool. A strange aspect about this community lies in its ethnic and interest diversity. Most of the members of this community are men. Jorge came to America from Brazil, as did Gago and Jonathan and his sister Stephanie. Mylik has a mixed ethnic heritage because his father comes from Panama and his mother is American. John, Kevin, Zoe, Erica and I all come from America, but a new member to our community, Maria "Maica" comes from Bolivia. One of our jokes we say when we have all of us hanging out at the same time is "all nationalities are represented in this room." This may be a quite large generalization, but most of the time the members of this community, listed above, bring other members into our community who come from different nations as well. Last weekend, Jorge’s apartment contained three Brazilians, one Panamanian/American, one Swiss, two Poles, and five Americans. The ethnic diversity of this community always provides a more interesting atmosphere and cultural feel.
One thing that holds this community together comes from our interest in going out downtown and having a good time. We drink and dance at Tobacco Company and Richbrau or go relax at places like Lucky Lounge or Element. Every Sunday we eat brunch at Sidewalk Café, on Main Street, and share pitchers of mimosas. The boys all play or watch soccer, an activity that enables our community to keep in contact and remain in tact. However, this community contains massive flaws and controversies.
As I said before, I am one of a few girls in this community of friends and problems in regard to gender relations occurs in our community on a regular basis. Most of the girls who hang out with us date one of the guys in this group. I dated a couple of these guys in the past and learned how difficult it is to remain friends with a group of guys if you decide to date any of them. One problem arises from the fact that guys tend to gossip, a characteristic mostly associated with women, but that goes both ways. When your friends find out what you are like on a girlfriend level their feelings may change toward you. Two of the consequences that I experienced include; one: a friend might develop more than friend feeling for you, and two: a friend might not want to be friends with you based on what information he learns from his friend. This all seems confusing, and trust me, it is.
The communities that I shared above all contain their pros and cons, but for the most part, they are communities I chose to be a member of for good reason. I decided to enroll in Randolph Macon because I loved the campus, my fellow students, and the faculty. I chose to join RMC choir, chambers, and jazz vocal because I love to sing and the friends I made through these different groups will be lifelong friendships. I chose to join Essex Insurance because I needed money and my mom works there so she sort of pressured me into it, and I chose to join my group of highschool friends because we have fun together and enjoy many of the same activities. Yet I face controversy in all of these communities as well.
At Randolph Macon, I struggle with commuting and because I live at home in Richmond, I have a difficult time meeting new people and having the ability to just show up for a study group or work on a project any time. Choir takes up a lot of my time, and causes me to have to rearrange my schedule for performances. I already spoke about the controversies I face at Essex Insurance, no need to go through that rant again. Finally, I face conflict in my group of friends just by being a girl surrounded by boys all of the time. These are boys who act vulgar in front of me constantly, which I am used to because of my two older brothers. We also face drama when friends within the group date each other and especially when those relationships don’t exactly work out. Yet over all, I enjoy my role in each of these communities and hope to gain experience and knowledge from interactions in each one.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Peer Review #3

Dear Ariel,
I enjoyed reading your paper, as I have with all of yours thus far. You approach your controversy from every angle and you do so effectively. As I mentioned before, I like your conversational style of writing. You write warmly and invitingly, and you make your audience feel as if you are sitting with them at a Starbucks sipping on a chai tea carrying on a conversation about housewives and working women.
From a technical stand point, I enjoy your sources because they add even more character to your style of writing. Your sub headings help divide your paper and make your sub-topics stand out. If you work more on your transitions, you will make the paper clear and it will flow much easier.
I perceive that, in this paper, you wish to convey that it does not make any difference whether a woman decides to work as a housewife or venture off into the business world. You seem to stand on neutral ground, and you put the choice in the individual woman’s hands. I feel that your paper has a decent balance between informative, narrative, and persuasive intent. You clearly offer us aspects of each side of the controversy, but you state your stance early in the paper and the rest of your paper gives examples of each side and how society perceives each of these lifestyle choices. I enjoyed the narrative parts about your aunt. As I understood your paper when I read it, you want to say that women can do just about anything they want and that the line between a housewife and a business woman becomes blurred because of women like Martha Stewart.
I noticed that you added some historical background and I believe that helps give your reader somewhere to start. You know what you are talking about and your writing reflects that fact. You need to work on your transitions from one idea to the next. Your paper felt choppy and the interruptions in the flow derive from your unclear transitions in a couple of sections. There were a couple of paragraphs in the Martha Stewart section where you repeated yourself. Did you do this to emphasize your point? However, your style engaged me and kept me moving from page to page.
You write with credibility because you know your topic and you use good sources to enhance key points in your paper. You also get to the point of your paper right away, and this allows the reader to sit back and relax while they read. I felt connected to your paper because I am a woman and the choices you discussed in your paper are ones that I and other women will need to make one day. You approach your problem head on and you grab your reader’s attention with your overall tone.
Rachel Powers

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

An Appeal to Arms (full draft)

Richmond’s appeal to his soldiers in Act scene is written in iambic pentameter. This means we give each line 5 beats and when reading we accent the second syllable (dee dum dee dum...and so on). Since Shakespeare also wrote the passage in blank verse, it has no rhyme scheme. The meter is consistent throughout, meaning there are no short lines or other variations in meter.
Richmond’s speech to his soldiers in Act 5.3 appeals to the soldiers morals and values. He directly contradicts King Richard’s speech to his army which invoked his soldier’s fear. Shakespeare makes these speeches paradox one another because he wants the readers to blatantly understand that Richmond is a better man than Richard. Richmond appeals to various morals in his speech; goodness, God, heroism, patriotism, and their tole as protectors of their families.
Beginning with the lines "Richard except, those whom we fight against/Had rather have us win than him they follow/ For what is he they follow? Truly, gentlemen,/A bloody tyrant and a homicide;" Richmond says Richard is the only one they are fighting who actually wishes to follow Richard ( Act 5.3 244-247). In these lines he calls Richard a tyrant, which means Richard acts for only himself which is why he is the only one who truly follows himself. If we look at these lines from Barton’s theory of reading these plays, the comma after "Richard except," indicates a pause in the voice and stresses the separation of Richard from everyone else. Within the line, "For what is he they follow? Truly, gentlemen," Shakespeare throws in a caesura which magnifies his use of the words truly and gentlemen (Act 5.3 246). Shakespeare does this to emphasize that Richmond speaks the truth about the country’s situation with Richard as ruler, and he refers to his soldiers as gentlemen rather than yeoman, as Richard does in his speech to his soldiers. In these four lines, Richmond begins his appeal to his soldiers by reassuring them that they picked the right guy to back up. He tells his soldiers that Richard’s supposed followers only support him because they fear a tyrant and a murderer.
In the next five lines "One raised in blood in blood and one in blood established;/ One that made means to come by what he hath,/And slaughter’d those that were the means to help him;/A base foul stone, made precious by the foil/ Of England’s chair, where he is falsely set;" Richmond appeals to the soldiers by pointing out that Richard is not the rightful ruler (Act 5.3 248-252). Instead of inheriting his title through the bloodline, he makes himself King Richard because he pretends to be friends with those who are in line and then kills them. A true king cannot make his crown, it should be passed down to him from the dying generation. The line "A base foul stone, made precious by the foil" is an antithesis because Richard is this despicable excuse for a man, who has made himself royalty (Act 5.3 251). In these lines Richmond also calls upon these soldier’s patriotism for their country and its traditions. He demonstrates how Richard disregards the way a king should behave and how he should receive his position.
In the following three lines "One that hath ever been God’s enemy./ Then if you fight against God’s enemy,/ God will in justice ward you as his soldiers," Richmond appeals to the soldiers’ spirituality (Act 5.3 253-255). He calls them God’s soldiers, and tells them they fight for God. In this section of his speech he speaks of God to appeal to their religious morals. He also calls Richard a rival to God, which stems from a tyrant’s belief that he is above God and law.
The next four lines "If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,/ You sleep in peace the tyrant being slain;/ If you do fight against your country’s foes,/ Your country’s fat shall pay your pains the hire;" coincide with the previous because Richmond tells the soldiers if they fight against Richard and his "followers" than they will serve both God and their country (Act 5.3 256-259). The soldiers will, therefore, be repaid with glory and peace for performing their good deed.
In the last six lines of the passage from Richmond’s speech, "If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,/ Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors;/ If you do free your children from the sword,/ Your children’s children quits it in your age:/ Then in the name of God and all these rights,/Advance your standards, draw your willing swords.", Richmond appeals to mens’ morals as the protectors of their families (Act 5.3 260-265). If the soldiers fight for their wives and childrens’ safety, than they will be revered as chivalric heros. Richmond also says that if they create peace now, the soldiers will keep their children from the need to go to battle. In the last line, "Advance your standards, draw your willing swords." (Act 5.3 260) he tells his soldiers to seek out their morals/values and fight for the them.
To summarize, Richmond infuses his soldiers with morality to fight against Richard and his men.. He calls on their goodness as gentlemen, their patriotism, their spirituality, their civic duty, and their role as protectors of their families. This speech emphasizes that Richmond should and will overthrow Richard because he represents God and morals whereas Richard represents a tyrant on a killing spree. This speech foreshadows the outcome of the play and the victory of Richmond and his gentlemen.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

An Appeal to Arms (part of Shakespeare paper)

Richmond’s appeal to his soldiers in Act scene is written in iambic pentameter. This means we give each line 5 beats and when reading we accent the second syllable (dee dum dee dum...and so on). Since, Shakespeare also wrote the passage in blank verse, it has no rhyme scheme. The meter is consistent throughout, meaning there are no short lines or other variations in meter.
Richmond’s speech to his soldiers in Act 3.5 appeals to the soldiers morals and values. He directly contradicts King Richard’s speech to his army which invoked his soldier’s fear. Richmond appeals to various morals in his speech; good leadership and actions, God, heroism, and patriotism.
Beginning with the line "Richard except,........a homicide." ( ), Richmond says Richard is the only one they are fighting who actually wishes to follow Richard. In these lines he calls Richard a tyrant, which means Richard acts for himself and himself alone which is why he is the only one who truly follows himself. If we look at these lines from Barton’s theory of reading these plays, the comma after "Richard except," indicates a pause in the voice and stresses the separation of Richard from everyone else. Within the line, "For what is he they follow? Truly, gentlemen," Shakespeare throws in a caesura which magnifies his use of the words truly and gentlemen. Shakespeare does this to emphasize that Richmond speaks the truth about the situation with Richard, and he refers to his soldiers as gentlemen rather than yeoman, as Richard does in his speech to his soldiers.