A Modesty Proposal
Our children are under attack. Each and every day, our children are inundated by completely unrealistic standards of attraction. One does not have to look very far to find those responsible; the media. Today, video games, movies, e-zines, and internet advertisements flood our heads with only the most fantastic and exaggerated anatomies, conspiring to misshape our children’s views of themselves and the world. This essay is a call to action, to make a difference, to force the media to take responsibility for what they show, and give our children a chance to develop self-worth.
Improving self-esteem through the elimination of unrealistic representations of anatomy: a healthy society has no need for fantastic representations of breasts. This is the easiest problem to correct. In all media that generate wholly fictional characters or use digital or conventional distortions to modify or otherwise control the appearance of breasts, simply eliminate the breast as a feature. Each of us has our own opinion of modest to ample size, and we must forestall any discussion to the effect that a single size is more correct than another. Since no size can be set as the standard, breasts should only appear insofar as they allow the audience to distinguish gender. Gender is the essential way we identify with one another. The distinction must be maintained so that our children can know how to relate to the characters displayed.
Breasts are not the only exploited physical characteristics in videogames and other fictional media. In fact, there are a great number of assets that are shaped, contoured, and sized to a standard that only generates hopelessness, despair, and self-loathing. Muscle (tone or bulk), lips, buttocks, eye-color, height, skin, and hair are characterized such that when our children look at themselves in mirrors they can only see shortcomings and failure. All such augmentation must be eliminated, and since videogames and fictional media have total control and responsibility for what they show our children, they should only create modest images and characteristics that all human beings possess.
It is not enough to chastise the creative fictional media for all of the harm they have done. All media must be reformed today, including unaltered pictures and film; these types of media might even be worse in terms of how they threaten the self-worth of individuals in this country. Genetically aberrant people have been held up as “beautiful” and “superior” by these supposedly genuine formats, and our children—unguided and incapable of deciding for themselves—aspire to be like these anomalies. The media’s bombardment of our children with images of the “one percent” creates an altogether unrealistic expectation that most children can never hope to attain.
We have to protect our children from being exposed to excellence in any form, intellectual or physical, genetic or trained. I am a reasonable person. I am not calling for these people to be quarantined or removed from society. Instead, no one with uncommon traits should appear in our media under any circumstances. Only people who represent the lowest common denominator should be shown.
If we want a healthy society filled with individuals who have self-esteem and value their physical appearance then we must protect our children, and punish any media that would depict anything extraordinary. Our children should never again be made to feel as though there is something they cannot have or cannot do. It is the only way to make them strong.
I have read opinions frequently regarding the responsibility videogames have toward depicting realistic shapes of human beings. Although I feel the opinions presented are well-intentioned, I have a problem with placing responsibility on any media source for the development and maintenance of self-esteem.
What are we doing wrong as a society that an individual’s self-worth can be shattered so easily? If fictional breasts are making it difficult for women to feel attractive, and generating false expectations in men, what does that say about us as a culture? Are we developing more meaningful and more significant connections to a few colored pixels on a screen than to our real parents, siblings, and friends?
I’m embarrassed for us as a society that we spend so much time focused on how to fix self-esteem by eliminating fantasy. No matter how good our intentions, removing large breasts from the media (videogames are not the only source of unrealistic definitions of attraction) is not going to help. What about perfect skin, lips, and symmetry of the face? Wherever the censorship ends, we’ll still be looking in our mirrors dissatisfied blaming external stimuli for our internal problems.
I’m sorry that the solution is so much more difficult than attacking videogames for being, uh, videogames, but the reality is that our culture has to foster meaningful interpersonal relationships, genuine connections among people, in order to perpetuate strength in our individuals. Parents are going to actually have to spend time with their kids. We have to take responsibility for helping children and young adults find value in themselves regardless of physical characteristics. It is sad to suggest that game-developers and other media should take responsibility… it’s worse than sad, it’s shameful. We should be proud to take responsibility, own our mistakes, and then work to make a real difference by not employing a superficial solution.