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Childhood Going Extinct?

11 Dec

It’s no secret that the amount of commercialized products have dramatically increased over the past couple decades. Also, younger and younger children have begun to act older and older. How younger girls dress now has always been a huge issue in my mind. I have not liked seeing kids I’ve known since they were born wear make-up and miniskirts way before I was ever comfortable to.

I had no idea how far the issue actually went until I saw “Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood,” a documentary about the industries’ influence on children.

This problem goes so much deeper than just how little girls are starting to dress. As soon as children are born, brands are put in front of their faces.

Industries shortly noticed that children were the main factor in what the parents buy. The documentary named it the ‘Nag Factor’ and said that children are the influence of $700 billion of money spent.  Basically, that means that if the children nag enough about something they want, the parents will eventually break down and get it. Which in most cases, you have to admit that it is true.

Once the industries get a hold of the younger kids, they pretty much have them for life. I remember as a kid my favorite movie was The Little Mermaid. I still find myself buying The Little Mermaid products just because of that emotional connection I had starting out at childhood.

Think about how many brands surrounded you as a baby. There was probably Barney blankets, Sesame Street kitchen ware, and Nickelodeon stuffed animals etc. Companies have been branding their TV shows and movies endlessly so that their characters faces will be plastered on almost anything.

So is this good or bad? Honestly, I think it is both. It matters how the products are being presented and how far the industries will go to make money.

I do not think that having characters that the children love around the house is bad. The two little boys I babysit especially love Mickey Mouse and Elmo. So when the kids see their favorite characters it makes them happy. And of course seeing those two little boys smile is one of the best things ever. Since the boys like these characters, I can easily attach learning techniques to them.

For examples, let’s say that one of the boys sees Elmo.

I can ask, “Who is that?”

The little boy responds with “Elmo!”

“What color is Elmo?”

“Red.”

“What else is red?”

“Apples!”

“What letter does apple start with?”

And so on. We also point out the different characters’ nose, mouth, ears, eyes etc and then they have to show me on their body where the same body parts are.

I do not think that these innocent characters can harm children by being around their house. Connections with characters like Mickey and Elmo are fun and can last their whole life. I do not regret my connection with Ariel at all. However, it is not hurting me because it was not being presented in a negative or persistent light.

The children really start being hurt by this when the markets’ priority shifts from the children’s happiness to just them making money. Obviously, money has to be somewhat of a priority because without money the businesses will end. However, this should not overshadow the consumers’ education and well being.

This is not only with children, this senselessness can be seen everywhere. There are tons and tons of commercials on TV advertising silly products that do not even work. They use cheap tricks and different ways to try to prove to the viewer that their product works. However, they usually end up not working and then they make returning the product almost impossible. The company ends up with money even if you send it back, because that, after all, was the main goal to them in the first place.

With children, industries are truly beginning to take things too far. They are putting kids under a microscope. Even though the industries are saying that they are doing close research to figure out what kids want, I believe they are influencing different items on children saying, ‘you should want and have this.’

For example, when I was a kid I never thought about make-up and what I was gonna wear on the weekends. It was non-stop fun and playing outside. Yes, once in a while we would love to play Nintendo 64 or Game Boy but it was not a priority to everyday life. This is honestly saying a lot because I went to a pretty materialistic school. However, all of the comparisons of what some kids have and other don’t, did not really start until High School.

There was no need for us to wear make-up, lots of jewelry and wear the latest brands. I believe that now industries are looking towards younger kids so that they can make more money. The market is making children believe that they need these things at a younger age to be cool, not that kids are demanding them. They are demanding them because society makes them feel like if they do not, they are not ‘in.’

This is just one big vicious cycle. Kids should not be under this kind of pressure so young. Their worries should not include what they wear, how they look, how straight their hair is, how tan they are, and how many boyfriends they have. Society should let kids be kids.

I would give anything to have my childhood back, and kids now are giving away childhood not even understanding how precious it truly is. I hope they do not grow up regretting that they wanted to grow up faster than they should have.

Some quotations that people in the documentary said where, “What you buy is who you are” and “life is about buying, life is about getting.” Is that what we really want to teach our kids? Kids today are all about stuff. They have to have the latest stuff, the coolest stuff, the most expensive stuff, the smallest stuff, the biggest stuff, and stuff stuff stuff.

Now is a more important time than any to be teacher younger kids about what really matters in life. Material stuff can be thrown away and it never last. Even though families can be under a lot of pressure because of jobs, bills, and kids needs etc, they should try to find some family time to show that love and family is what really matters more than getting the latest iPad. Also, since it is the season of giving, I would suggest showing younger kids how to give back.

If you are wondering on how to do so, here is a website on how to get involved in St. Jude’s and here is a link on how to get involved with the Special Olympics. You never know how many lives a simple kind gesture will change for the better.

So now that I have kind of rambled off topic, let’s get back to the main point shall we?

Childhood is becoming extinct before our eyes. Kids now want to grow up and be rich or famous or live in a big house or drive an expensive car or in most cases, all of the above. There is no pride in being a nurse, mailman, truck driver or any of those jobs anymore. Now, kids do not understand why it is bad to want to grow up and be rich and famous. So then why should we put these ideas into their heads at such a fragile age?

The wrong values are being sold to children. The wrong values are even being sold to parents!

I think we need to transform the way children have fun back to how it used to be. My Dad always says that if he “had a stick and a rock, he would be happy.” He always says that kids now-a-days do not have to use their imagination because basically anything that people think anymore, can happen.

I long for the days that I would run around outside with my friends and make the things we found outside into whatever we wanted. We did not need any special toys to have fun, we would just use our imagination and be anyone we wanted to be and do anything we wanted to do. I used to scare my parents when I tried to jump off random things because I said I could fly. Maybe I did watch a couple too many Disney movies….

We all need to be treated as people, not buyers. I cannot say that we should all ban up together and take down the industry, because in all honestly that could take years and maybe never happen. But there are little things that we can all do to help it along.

The main thing, which I just learned, is to just be cognoscente of what is going on around you. Realize what kind of ads are being shown to children and see if it could be negative at all. Kids cannot see right from wrong at a young age, so as parents, siblings and friends, etc we all need to help teach them. I think that I was really lucky on how I was raised. My Mother said “No” a lot to things I wanted and to things I thought I needed. Now I see how smart she was and that she was right that I did not need these trivial things I wanted.  

I would like to end on a verse from the Bible that I heard in Church this morning. It was actually very perfect and fitting to this.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.

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Lindsay is a Milkaholic!?

7 Dec

Celebrities have always made headlines for lawsuits. Since they are in the public eye, some people forget that they are normal people and take their personal life too far. This leads to many celebrities being upset that their privacy was disturbed or their name was used negatively. That is why almost every time you watch E! News or Entertainment Tonight, another star is claiming a libel or invasion of privacy lawsuit.

The most popular lawsuits lately have been Scarlett Johansson’s nude photo scandal and of course, Charlie Sheen. Even though these have been the most popular to talk about, I would like to mention another lawsuit that I believe is ridiculous.

In the 2010 Superbowl an E-Trade commercial was played. You have probably seen those commercials; they are the hilarious ones with the talking babies. Well in this specific commercial, the girl baby asks if ‘that milkaholic Lindsay’ was over. Lindsay Lohan automatically thought that the company was poking fun at her and her alcohol issues.  So Lindsay sued saying that they modeled the baby after her to help sales.

Well I mean the world does revolve around Lindsay Lohan, right?

Here is the commercial just in case you missed it.

So what do you think? Do you think it was meant to be connected to Lindsay Lohan? Was it just a coincidence? Is Lindsay completely overreacting?

Lindsay’s lawyer, Stephanie Ovadia, claimed that E-Trade purposefully used the name ‘Lindsay’ to model the ‘milkaholic’ after her client. She even went on saying that Lindsay Lohan has the same first name recognition as Madonna and Oprah.

Lindsay Lohan claimed that she wanted $100 million in damages. Ovadia said, “They’re using her name as a parody of her life. Why didn’t they use the name Susan? This is a subliminal message. Everybody’s talking about it and saying it’s Lindsay Lohan.”

Ovadia went on to say that not only was Lindsay Lohan used as a comedic aspect in the commercial, but that the commercial violated Lindsay’s rights under New York state law because they used her “name and characterization” without receiving her permission.

The E-Trade Company commented back saying that they just used a common female name and that it “happened to be the name of someone on the account team.”

This lawsuit is making my mind go back and forth on what I believe. One on hand, I really think that they did connect the troubles of Lindsay Lohan with the commercial to make it funny. Yet, on the other hand they did not say her last name and Lindsay is a popular name. Honestly, the commercial was funny no matter if it had to do with Lindsay Lohan or not.

I do not think that Lindsay Lohan should have filed a lawsuit against E-Trade, especially for $100 million. Yes, they could have used a different name and yes, they could have made the ‘Lindsay baby’ something else besides a milkaholic, but would it have been as funny? No.

The other thing that really annoys me about this lawsuit is the fact that Lindsay Lohan had the audacity to say her name has the same one name recognition as huge celebrities. I do not believe that at all. She has not made it to that status and Lindsay is such a popular name that no matter how famous she is, it will never be like Madonna, Usher, Cher, or Oprah etc.

When I say Jennifer does everyone automatically thing Aniston? Some may, but there are so many people who have friends, family members and maybe even their own names are Jennifer.

Lindsay Lohan had other important issues to worry about at that time as well. She was making (and still is) headlines for partying a lot and breaking parole. I think that she should have worried more about jail and less about if a silly E-Trade commercial used her common first name.

So I guess you would want to know the outcome. Guess what, Lohan won!

The end settlement was confidential but Lindsay’s team said they were “very happy” with the outcome of the lawsuit. So even if Lindsay Lohan did not get all of the $100 million dollars, she obviously did get some money from E-Trade.

I personally do not like that she received a lot of money from the company. I understand if it was a little bit but the “very happy” comment makes it seem as if Lindsay Lohan received more than a little bit of money.

I wish they could have released more of the case to the public. I want to know how Lindsay Lohan’s team proved that the ‘Lindsay’ name that E-Trade used in the commercial was 100% directly connected to Lindsay Lohan. This was a hard case to figure out whom to place the blame on because there are two separate stories competing. Obviously in this case, the celebrity won out.

I understand the New York State law that no company or individual can use another persons’ name for their own benefit without their permission. Also, libel issues were presented because apparently Lindsay’s name was used negatively on TV which was broadcasted everywhere and gave her even more of a bad reputation. Not to mention, the commercial can always be found on the internet.  I just want to know from E-Trade if it was truly directed towards Lindsay Lohan or if it was just a crazy coincidence.  

Either way, the commercial is funny and still resulted in E-Trade being noticed by more people.

If you want to read up more about what libel lawsuits are click here.

If you want to read more about the Lindsay Lohan lawsuit click here.

If you want to read more about the Lindsay Lohan and E-Trade settlement click here.

The public is up to their own opinions and conclusions about celebrity lawsuits. Some may be legitimate, and some may just be silly and seem as if they are just trying to get more attention.  Even though these cases somewhat annoy us, we are still waiting to hear about the next scandal in Hollywood. We are also such huge consumers to this type of media because we cannot stop reading about it! I know for myself, I get interested about the crazy stories on E! News. I guess that is the society we live it. It’s crazy, right?

Well Done Disney, Well Done…

5 Dec

Surprise, surprise! We are back to my favorite topic.

On November 18th I was lucky enough to go back to the most magical place on Earth; Walt Disney World.

Don’t worry, I am not going to throw pixie dust everywhere and ramble on and on about how magical everything was, even though that would be easy for me to do. No, instead I want to focus on public relations strategies.

The Disney Company is not one of the biggest companies in the world by chance, they are very smart and they know how to get their product out there to the masses and present it in a positive way.

Before I go any further, let’s define the difference between advertising and public relations so that you do not get confused.

Advertising would be when a company buys a way to advertise.  All of the billboards that are seen while driving around Orlando Florida about Walt Disney World are types of advertising. These also include commercials and the ads that you find on the side of Facebook, Amazon, and Email etc.

Then those advertisements can be made a certain way to secure favorable media publicity. It is used more to promote and persuade the audience about Walt Disney World. For example, the billboards that are all over Orlando convey a certain image.

As I was down in Florida in November I paid closer attention to the public relations strategies and kept track of everything I noticed. Walt Disney World is working on promoting all of their wonderful Holiday Events. The main one being Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

On all of the billboard advertisements information was shown on how to get tickets for Mickey’s party. They are very successful in this because the messages convey a feeling of family, love, magic, and holiday fun! So when anyone looks at the billboards, they are persuaded that going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will help make their family’s Christmas more magical.

Even once in the park, signs for the event are everywhere. Once again, the actual signs are a form of advertisement but the feelings promoted and strategies used on the signs are a form of public relations. The signs usually show a beautiful Christmas tree, a smiling family, and an overjoyed child meeting his or her favorite character. Even thinking about it makes me smile, well done Disney, well done.

Another strategy that they have to promote Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is that there are special things that only people who have tickets to the event can be a part of. There is a parade, tree and castle lighting, special characters, hot chocolate, cookies and Santa Clause at this party!

Disney is very clear that the only way you can really experience the Holiday feeling at Walt Disney World is by getting tickets for this special event. Of course, the tickets are almost as expensive as it is to get into the Parks but because of the feeling the event gives people, they are sold out every night and it is hard to get a ticket if you do not do so ahead of time.

Securing media coverage is another public relations strategy. Disney has already obtained a positive media image due to their channel, radio station, books, movies, and their tons and tons of commercials but they also get media coverage over events that happen in the Park. The events can include Walt Disney movie premiers, special event celebrations, celebrity guests and of course the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.  

Unfortunately I was not in the Park while this was going on but I do know about it. The Disney Parks have a Christmas Day Parade every year and every year they get tons of publicity and media coverage. The parade is then put on TV for everyone to watch, it is the equivalent to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade except it is on Christmas Day. Oh, and it airs on ABC which should not be a surprise because ABC is owned by Disney.

They film the parade about a month before Christmas so that they can get celebrity guests and lots of different types of coverage.  This year they filmed December 3rd and had celebrity guests including Justin Bieber, Nick Canon, Christina Aguilera, and Mario Lopez. Last year they had Ryan Seacrest hosting the show alongside Mickey Mouse.

To see the parade live you need to buy tickets which are hard to get and it is always crowded because of the amount of people, reporters, TV crews and of course the performers. Sneak peeks are given on the Disney Parks Blog website and on commercials on ABC and The Disney Channel.

Because of the promotion for the parade and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, revenue in the Parks during this time of year is ridiculous. Everyone wants a piece of the Christmas magic that only Disney can give and Disney has always been extremely successful in getting their message out to the people.

The media relation workers that Disney has are great and very smart. Not only do they pull favorable media coverage from other media sources but they mostly use their own. Since they can use their own media, they can show exactly what Disney would want to show to the public. The message is put in a perfect light and is always done with a lot of magic, love and family aspects.

Disney has always been extremely successful at keeping their magical image. They know that they are being held to a high standard so for every event, no matter what it is, they add extra magic to keep themselves ahead of the rest.

I honestly cannot think of anything else that Disney could do to make the popular brand more successful. They promote magic, love, family and a positive image. Every media outlet that they are given, they make sure their image comes across positively to the audience. I know that Disney will continue to thrive with their public relations strategies and keep bringing magic for generations to come!

Time for a fun fact!

Now you may have noticed that the day I went to Walt Disney World was a little over three weeks ago. Did it really take me that long to write this blog? Of course not! I wanted to post this on a very special day.

Today is Walt Disney’s birthday! Walter Elias Disney was born December 5th 1901 and he brought so many great gifts to us all. I just want to take this time to thank Walt Disney for all he has done and for all of the dreams that he has helped make a reality. Thank you, Walt for making magic real and tangible. Thank you for giving us all confidence in our dreams. Thank you, for showing us the impossible and bringing many people all over the world so much joy.

“If you’re not first, you’re last!”

5 Dec

If you’re not first, you’re last!”

These wise words were given to us by the hilarious movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. This movie was made five years ago in 2006 and it has been one of my favorites ever since.

The character Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) has grown up wanting to go fast and will not settle for less than first place. He becomes the best NASCAR driver in history. He has everything anyone could ever want; a ‘smokin’ hot wife,’ two very badly behaved boys, a huge mansion, tons of cars, fame, and a best friend Cal Naughton (John C. Reilly).

Suddenly Jean Girad (Sasha Baron Cohen) comes over from France and turns Ricky’s world upside down. Ricky gets into a huge crash and starts to be paranoid that he is on fire all the time. As a result of Ricky’s race car career ending, he losses everything.  Ricky Bobby then has to race his way back into first place to get his life back and kick Jean Girad back to Europe.

 Now that you understand the plot of the movie, you may be able to picture how many product placements there were in it. Since the main part of the movie took place on the NASCAR race track, products were everywhere.

There were products on all the different cars, on the signs, on their clothing, and simply anywhere that you look.  The products included Kodak, McDonalds, QVC, Tide, Good Year, Wonder Bread, Old Spice, Perrier, Fig Newton’s, Lowes, Visa, Nextel, Target and Subway just to name a few.

Since this time I was paying attention to the products in the movie, I finally noticed how strategically placed they really were. The products were placed so that they could clearly be seen. Even if there was a car wreck, the hood flying off of the car would go across the screen to clearly show the product. Also, when trucks would go across the background the products’ logos would be big enough to be seen.

These products were both placed there on purpose by the companies and also it helped the movie seem more realistic. In a real NASCAR race there are products all over the cars because those are the sponsors for the racers. So not only did the movie help the products get noticed, the products helped the movie seem more realistic.

Another way the products helped the movie was for the comedic factor. Since it is a comedy, not to mention a Will Ferrell comedy, there has to be some stereotypical jokes.  As bad as stereotypes can be, when Will Ferrell makes them, you cannot help but laugh.

Since Ricky Bobby is a big time race car driver, he does commercials for some products. Of course, the commercials that he does are stereotypical and the main point of them is to be funny. Ricky Bobby tries to promote a hunting knife available at Wal Mart, Big Red gum and MayPax as the official tampon for NASCAR. These commercials were just for comedic reasons, especially the Wal Mart one because that is very stereotypical towards the ‘rednecks’ that usually are fans of NASCAR.

Those products were just placed there for comedic reasons, rather than them making money for the producers. Either way, it was effective and it made the audience remember the products.

During one scene, the whole family is sitting down for a nice dinner. Products are mentioned during the prayer before the meal and they are shown on the dinner table. During the prayer, Ricky Bobby thanks Jesus for all of the food they have including Dominoes, KFC and Taco Bell. He starts the prayer by saying, “Dear eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus. Don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent.” Okay so I know that quotation had nothing to do with products, but I thought it was hilarious and worth sharing.

During the same dinner scene they also make fun of contracts that link people with certain products. At the end of the prayer Ricky Bobby says, “Also due to a binding endorsement contract that stipulates I mention PowerAde at each grace, I just wanna say that PowerAde is delicious and it cools you off on a hot summer day and we look forward to PowerAde’s release of mystic mountain blueberry. Thank you, for all your power and your grace, Dear Baby God, Amen.”

This was mainly a funny aspect of the movie but it probably helped the products too. Since the movie was so popular, people would want to get those products just so that they could have that connection with the movie.

Also on the dinner table, I noticed that the products were all turned a specific way so that every camera angle would catch the full name of the product. The Coca-Cola, Wonder Bread, and PowerAde labels were all clearly shown. Once again, this adds to the movie and helps the products.

One of the best advertisements for a product that I have ever seen takes place in this wonderful movie. Not only is this hilarious, it is extremely clever and the most memorable product placement. Ricky Bobby and Jean Girad get into a crash at the final race of the movie. The cars are rolling across the tracks for a long time, and since it is taking so long NASCAR decides to go to commercial.

The movie then goes into a shortened version of a real Applebee’s commercial before it goes right back to the cars still rolling on the tracks. This was clever for the movie and for Applebee’s. This is probably one of the most memorable parts of the movie because it is so unexpected and funny. They use Applebee’s as another stereotypical joke because they say NASCAR fans consider Applebee’s a “gourmet meal.” Applebee’s probably got a lot of more revenue because of this movie, and the director probably received a lot of money from Applebee’s because he put their commercial in the middle of the movie.

I believe that the products that were used in a comedic fashion were the most memorable and the most effective. If I had to think of products in the movie (before I watched the movie to look for them) I would think of Wal Mart, Applebee’s and PowerAde. These were all used to be funny before they were used to advertise.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby used products throughout the entire movie. They used specific products that helped the plot of the movie in many ways.  The products were promoted very well and were remembered by the audience. The mix of comedy (product stereotypes) and realistic (all the products at a NASCAR race) were balanced very well throughout the movie.

Now, if you have not seen the movie yet, go watch it! And remember, if you’re not first; you’re last!

For your viewing pleasure, I have added a video of the different promos that Ricky Bobby does during the movie. Have a good laugh and enjoy!

Growing in Faith

30 Nov

While thinking over all the books I’ve read, there have been a lot of books that have affected me. I have to admit I love Jodi Picoult books and they have been really fun to read but they haven’t changed my life. If I have to think of a book that impacted me so much that it changed my life I will have to say the book Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy.

Disclaimer: I am about to open up about my life a little so that you can truly understand why this book impacted me so much. So it is about to get personal. You’ve had your warning.

I went through a pretty hard time about three years ago. After my Mother suddenly passed away, I pushed far away from people and especially from God. I was a pretty angry teenager.  As a result, I fell into a bad crowd at school and did not make the last two years of high school something that I want to remember.

So why did I tell you this? Well without going into too much detail, I wanted you to basically know that I was not that good of a person three years ago. I made terrible choices, was mad at God and I hated my life.  Then one of my best friends gave me the book Authentic Beauty.

Authentic Beauty is written by a devout Christian, Leslie Ludy, who has a wonderful husband and loves God more than anything in her whole life. She also talks about her rough life before she truly found God.

I was able to really connect with her. She mainly has given me hope. She made some bad choices and had some not so great memories as well. Yet, God still loved her and now that she has come to Jesus, she is living an amazing life.

Well, if you are not a Christian then you may not be very interested in this post right now. But this book is so much more than a story of how she met God. It is a book that helps young women and men stay on track and what to expect from the world.  

Leslie Ludy talks about many different stages in life and how she could have made better choices. Also, one of the main things that she talks about is beauty and how it should be defined. From a girl who has struggled with self-image, and I’m sure every girl out there has at one point or another, this book helped me see that I am beautiful no matter what.

At first I was hesitant to read a Christian book but it has truly helped my everyday life and my relationship with God. This book helped me as I turned my life back around. Now, I am thankful everyday for all of my blessings and I am more driven than ever to peruse my dreams.  I know that God is going to be there with me for every step of my life and that He will make my dreams come true, if that is what He wants for me.

I am more confident and happy than ever! Of course I miss my Mom more than anything in the entire world but I am still happy with my life. I have a wonderful Father, a great step-mom, good education, food, a house, clothing and not to mention my talent and passion for the arts.

When something bad comes into our lives, God continues to show us how much love he has for us and gives us something good. It just depends on if we want to see it or not. After my Mom passed away I thought everything was going to go downhill, I thought the happy part of my life was over. However, now that I trust God with my life he has brought peace over my depressing thoughts. I know that I will be able to see her again someday and that my life still has happiness in it. I still have wonderful friends and family members that make me laugh and I have been continuing to do what I love. I know that she is looking down on me and smiling.  

Even though I read the book a couple months ago, I still keep it with me sometimes. I will put it in my purse, bag, or backpack once in a while. It may sound weird, but it is somewhat comforting for me to know it is there. I can then pull it out if I want to remind myself of something or if I want a little ‘pick-me-up.’

Not only did this book help change my outlook on life, it has led me to read other Christian books. When Borders was closing it was having huge sales on everything in the store. I went one of their last days and bought a couple Christian books. They are great reads and keep my mind focused on God and how much I love Him and He loves me. 

Since the Bible is a hard book to sit down and read through, these books help subsidies my lack of reading the Bible every day. I still read a little every once in a while and I am determined to get through, but it is nice to hear what good God has done for other people.

I am so happy Authentic Beauty was brought into my life by my best friend Morgan(pictured to the right), and we talk about it a lot which is so nice to be able to talk about God freely with my friend. If anyone is even a little bit intrigued to read it, please do! It is a wonderful book and will help you with more than you can imagine. There are sections about guys too! I hope you consider picking the book up somewhere or online.

Here is a link to the book and here is a link to Leslie Ludy’s website. You can find a lot of stuff about the book including reviews and more things about the fabulous author. Enjoy!

“Like a lily amoung the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens.” Song of Solomon 2:2.

How Do You Define Beauty?

10 Nov

Picture you are walking down a city street and you see a billboard that catches your eye to the right. You look over and see a tan, skinny leg with a red pump on the end of it. Then you notice there is a Versace purse hanging from the leg. Then you notice that there is a girl attached to that leg, she is leaning up against a wall in the background with smoldering eyes and one finger on the side of her lip while her other hand holds another Versace purse. She is wearing a tight black skirt and a sheer white shirt that is hanging off her left shoulder enough to show her collar bone and top of her pushed up breast.

So what do you think first? ‘Wow, I really want that bag now?’, ‘Jeez, I wish I looked like her; she’s gorgeous’, or maybe even ‘Maybe if I get an outfit like that and buy that purse I will be able to look that hot’?  

Well there are a couple problems with those thoughts, especially because this girl does not exist.

 Yes there was an actual model that sat and posed for this but that model probably does not look anything like the woman did in the finished product. Her eyes, nose, eyebrows, facial structure, lips, ears and hair may have all been altered on the computer. Also, her breast may have been made to be bigger, and her frame and legs may have been made to be smaller. So out of this advertisement we get a picture of a beautiful woman who is not realistic in any way.

Jean Kilbourne decided that she wanted to challenge the way that people thought about advertising and he wanted to draw attention to the particular way that women are being advertised. She has four parts of the documentary Killing Us Softly.  In class we watched the fourth installment of Killing Us Softly.

At first I thought that I had pretty much heard all of what she was going to say. I had even seen the Dove commercial where it shows how much a company will change the model into a woman that they would want to advertise their product. Too bad that woman does not exist.

However, there are so many more subliminal and subconscious messages that we are receiving from advertisements of almost every product. I guess I did not realize how much my view of beauty was being controlled by advertisements. There are so many times that I push myself to the gym or to not take that second slice of pizza because I am scared to I will gain weight. I am constantly reminded of my size 4 clothing and I am not happy with that size. I would love to be a size two.

Why? Why is size two better than size four? What is beauty anyway?

Dictionary.com defines beauty as ‘the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color sound, etc.), a meaningful design or patter, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).’

So after that long definition, I have come to the conclusion that beauty cannot be defined. I believe that individuals need to be confident and see the beauty in themselves. I believe that everyone is beautiful because everyone is beautifully different.

Jean Kilbourne shared her thoughts of women in advertising and I completely agree with all of them. Advertisers are trying to tell us what beautiful is, even though there are many different forms of beauty. Then, as a result men start tobelieve the hype that they see in ads.

All of a sudden men see women who are blonde, skinny, white, tall, have straight hair, are in there 20s and wear expensive clothing as beautiful. Well that makes less than 1% of the population beautiful. Even though I made up that percentage there cannot be that many women out there that fit that prescription!  Also, I hope men understand that woman do not wear tinny clothing and platform shoes and perfect make-up all the time. The girls that I see walking around campus in high heeled shoes are crazy and we can all tell that they are struggling.

Those girls should not feel like they have to wear those high heels to feel attractive and sexy.

This culture is ripping woman apart and making them feel bad about themselves no matter what they do. Women are reaching towards an impossible standard. Eating disorders have increased in women because of all the advertisements they are exposed to.  Women are embarrassed to eat in front of people.

How is a normal human necessity embarrassing? Even as I ask that question I remember numerous times when I got a salad or a small portion of food if I was eating with a guy. Yet, the guy can fill up his plate and then go back for seconds and thirds and it does not seem weird.

That double standard is unfair and puts woman at a disadvantage to almost everything. Women are constantly being judged on how they look. Women are constantly being seen as objects. Women are constantly being put down for not taking more time to get ready in the morning to look ‘presentable.’ Women are constantly trying to impress men.

Jean Kilbourne also puts focus on how woman are posed in pictures. Why are woman posed to look vulnerable, weak and childlike? I do not understand why that is more attractive than other options but since the media puts it out there, we as consumers accept it.

Well I agree with Jean, it is time to stop accepting these advertisements and do something about it!

Anywhere you look you can find an advertisement that degrades women. Even on the cover of any Cosmo Magazine it talks about sex advice for women and how to be so good in bed that he will never leave you. I think these are giving the wrong impression to women, especially young girls who can pick up those magazines and read them anywhere.

Young girls are obviously vulnerable and they are set to a very high standard by society by a very young age. This is so unfair to ask of a little girl. The little kid lingerie that Jean was talking about is honestly disgusting. At a young age, they are thinking that the only way to be beautiful and appealing to a guy is to wear slinky clothing. No wonder there is a higher risk of eating disorders, suicide and pregnancy in younger and younger girls.  

I think we as woman need to stand up and challenge these advertisements. Even though there are ads with woman of different colors and ethnicities, they are not as glamorous as the other ads. I am not sure how we can stop accepting these stereotypical and judgmental roles, but there has to be a place to start.

Start sharing Jean Kilbourne’s videos with women that you know and remind everyone that they are beautiful.  Beauty cannot be found in a purse, pair of shoes, perfume or certain clothes and it can certainly not be bought at the plastic surgeons office. It astonished me that there was a 754% increase in woman getting Botox in the last ten years. Do women believe that they need to get these injections to stay beautiful?

So what do you say girls? Let’s remind everyone that they are beautiful. Let’s not impress guys with our clothing but let them be attracted to who we truly are. Let’s remind ourselves that those are not real women in those magazines.  Something that is not real cannot be beautiful. Now go look in a mirror, what you see in the mirror is real, so therefore it is beautiful.                                          

                                

All You Need is….Magic!

10 Nov

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.” Ever since I heard that song in Pinocchio (1940) as a little girl that line has stuck in my mind.  I would be lying if I said that Disney has not had a huge effect on me growing up and even now.  I truly believe that Disney has an effect on many generations of people. Why do you think Disney movies are constantly being made and the Disney Parks have hundreds of visitors every day?

There are common themes in most of the Walt Disney Movies that are projected to young children and even adults. No matter what decade you watch a Disney movie in; the same themes appear and will touch the audience.

 The most common and basic themes are; love, family, friendship and never giving up on your dreams. I dare you to find one movie that does not hold these themes. But seriously, it is impossible to find.

“So this is love” (Cinderella)

Love is probably the most obvious theme in all of the Disney movies. Honestly, love is probably the most commontheme of any type of movie.  The classic Disney movies had beautiful girls finding their Prince Charmings even after going through some hardships. Love in Disney movies has evolved during the years to not only be between a man and a woman but between family, friends and even people and their pets and people and their toys.

An example of a more recent Disney movie that shows love that is not between a girl and a boy is Toy Story 3 (2010). Now, I cried like a baby at the end of that movie. I do not care who you are, you know that you had to tear up when Andy played with Woody his other toys that last time before going to college. It was incredibly sweet. Andy’s love for his toys started with Toy Story (1995) and we got to watch him grow up and what that meant to his favorite toys.  So instead of the classic Disney tale of a Princess and her Prince Charming, we were able to see into the life of toys. Toy Story 3 made me not want to leave any of my childhood toys at home when I went to college, I did not want to hurt their feelings.

Disney has taught us that love is something special that people (or objects) can share. Kids and adults alike are taught how special and amazing love can truly be. Disney relates love to magic which makes love seem even more extraordinary. Everyone can love, so everyone can have a piece of magic. It brings the amazing fairytale stories to life. Anyone can be a Princess and find their Prince Charming; all you have to do is believe in the magic of love.   

“No matter what they say, you make me proud” (Maurice to Belle in the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast)

Just as love has been a major theme in Disney movies, family has always been shown as a special bond to have. I believe this is one of the most important lessons that Disney tries to teach us.

For example, a father-daughter relationship has always been seen as very special. They were shown clearly between Ariel and King Triton in The Little Mermaid (1989), between Belle and Maurice in Beauty and the Beast (1991) and between Jasmine and her father, The Sultan of Agrabah, in Aladdin (1992). All of these fathers loved their daughters very much and would do anything for them. The daughters also loved their father’s very much and were grateful for them.

My personal favorite ending between a father and daughter in a Disney movie is when Ariel hugs King Triton when she is marrying Prince Eric. They share a really sweet moment after King Triton makes the sacrifice of turning Ariel human so that she will be happy with Eric, whom she loves. Ariel’s appreciation for her father’s love is shown and everyone lives happily ever after.

The love of family even appears in Disney movies where animals are the stars, not humans. Back in 1994 The Lion King showed the love of family in a family of lions. And then more recently, in Finding Nemo (2003) family is the main theme and plot of the movie, but it is between fish. The whole movie is about the father, Marlin, chasing after his son, Nemo, and trying to find him and rescue him. This movie shows the true love of a father’s devotion for his child and that he will stop at nothing to keep him safe.  It shows Marlin’s acceptance to let Nemo grow up, but yet we all know that Marlin will always be there for Nemo.

This tells children that their parents would go (or in Marlin’s case, swim) to the end of the Earth and back for them without any regrets. Something that you may be thinking right now is, ‘Why is it that there is always a deceased parent in Disney movies?’ And yes, you are right. In the majority of Disney movies one parent is either deceased or out of the picture.

I do not know the exact reason why that this is, but I can give you my point of view on the situation. I believe that Disney is showing that a family is a family, no matter how many parents you have. Even if one has passed away, it does not mean it is less of a family. If children who only had one parent were seeing Disney movies all the time with a Mother and a Father always present, they may believe that they do not have a good enough family. Also, like in Tarzan (1999), even if you do not live with your birth parents, you still can have mother and father figures that are still family. No matter what your family situation is, everyone has a family.

I know this helped me after my Mother passed away three years ago. So now when I watch Disney movies I am not saddened by seeing my favorite Disney characters not only having perfect hair and love lives, but having a perfect family too. Even my favorite Disney character, Ariel, is missing her Mother and she still has a ‘happily ever after.’

“You’ve got a friend in me” (Toy Story)

Once again, friendship can be seen in every single Disney movie. The protagonist in every movie has to have a best friend. No matter if it is a parent, sibling, animal, toy or another person it is still a friendship. Disney shows that not only can you love anyone and can have any kind of family, but you can have any kind of friend. Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) had animals and 7 dwarfs as her friends, Cinderella in Cinderella (1950) had animals as friends,  Lightning McQueen in Cars (2006) had other cars as his friends and Carl Fredricksen (the old man) in Up! (2009) had a friendship with Russell (the little boy) and Dug (the dog) by the end of the movie.

Even the song “It\’s A Small World” that is played in the famous ride in Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort is about friendship. It tells us that even though everyone may live in different places, speak different languages and dress differently, it does not mean that everyone cannot be friends. “There is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small small world.”

I remember playing with my friends as a child and we would all take different Disney characters. Of course I was always Ariel. Disney movies helped show us that anyone can be friends and it allowed for a lot of recess amusement. It was only till we got older that people became picky and judgmental about friends. Watching Disney movies brings me back to the childhood innocence of being friends with everyone.  I miss those days!

“I won’t look back, I can go the distance. And I’ll stay on track, no I won’t accept defeat” (Hercules)

Following your dreams has always been an important value for Disney, just because it was extremely important to Walt Disney.

Walt Disney once said, “Somehow I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.” Here is a link to a website all about Walt Disney if you would like to learn more of all the amazing things he has done and more about Disney. http://www.justdisney.com/walt_disney/

Even after his death, his legacy lives on as they keep all of his ideas present in all of the new projects and throughout the Disney Parks. Every Disney character faces some conflict and it usually is an obstacle getting in the way of them pursuing their dreams.  No matter what the conflict is, their dream is always realized.

Disney teaches us that no matter what life throws at you, if you truly believe in yourself you can accomplish anything. They even had a firework show at Walt Disney World called “Wishes” that told the story of character’s wishes and how their dreams came true because they believed in them with all their heart. Just listen to your conscience; Jiminy Cricket!

Disney characters have been through very difficult hardships. Sleeping Beauty was put to sleep while her Prince fought a dragon, Quasimodo was trapped in Notre-Dame, Snow White was running away from being killed by the Queen and Sully and Mike where running away trying to save Boo and themselves from being captured by  the Monster Inc Company.

Even though these conflicts would never happen to real life people, viewers of all ages can connect to any of these characters and situations.  Children see that they can do anything no matter what and older viewers and parents are reminded the same thing when they watch.

There are so many songs that are written that are about pursuing your dreams and never giving up. Some of my favorites include “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella, “The Second Star to the Right” from Peter Pan, and of course “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio.

“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Day My Oh My, What A Wonderful Day!”

Disney has defiantly created a culture for people who have grown up watching their movies. They know that people love their movies and their values and they use that towards their advantage. They use Synergy through all their different media channels they have which helps continue to promote them. That way they are in complete control on how they are advertised and how the public continues to see them.  

I do not believe at all that they exploit anything or give false view of reality. As I said before in my “Leave the Mouse Alone!” blog, Disney helps us escape reality and helps keep our wishes alive. Disney does not want us to feel like nothing can live up to their expectations, but to believe in our wishes and we can all live our own magical moments. Also, as a child I would not want to watch a movie about the ‘real-world,’ that would be too scary.  

Also, I think Disney adds in subliminal messages in their movies. Since their main audiences of their movies are children, they cannot add in any huge travesty because they may scare the children. They use magical characters, songs and comedy to cover up some negative situations in Disney movies. As a child I did not understand these at all but as I got older I was able to see more into the movies. This new knowledge did not make me sad or upset at the movies, it helped me appreciate the movies in a more mature light.

For example, in The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s voice being taken away, and her capture by Ursula (who is really her Aunt) sheds a new light on the movie. It shows that no one should ever silence you no matter what they say they will give you, and to be careful about whom you trust. Now I see more into the movie than just a mermaid who falls in love, and now I love the movie even more. I challenge you to go out and find a deeper meaning in the Disney movies! They are there; you just have to pay close attention.   

Disney has a huge effect on anyone of any age. Disney reminds people to love. Disney reminds people that they always have a family. Disney reminds people that they can have anyone as a friend. Disney reminds people to never give up on their dreams. Disney keeps the magic alive in people’s hearts. No matter how old anyone gets and how stressed out they get with life, Disney is there to take you back to your childhood where magic is real, because with Disney, magic is real.