(Original post by Trust Orang)
This was such a civil and considered reply that I'm more startled than if you'd tried to insult me. I've written a lot, hopefully you will appreciate my taking the time to respond to you. I've condensed it by theme, so that should help you to follow my rambling train of thought.
Unfortunately there is so much I've had to leave out, it was getting too long anyway, and I have run out of coffee and time. Sorry about anything I've been unable to elaborate on, some points haven't been made as explicit so you might have to read between the lines. There are also lots of pretty girls to google in here, so you might want to open a new tab.
Thank you for your kind words, it is nice to hear my efforts are appreciated. I have never studied law, I just like to argue with strangers on the internet. I have come across the concepts we've talked about through politics and sociology, but my main focus is psychology.
What are you studying?
The example of the murderer; personal responsibility, and the applicability of media-lead social learning theory across societies in history.
In the example of the murderer, the point is, although you can argue that the &quot;violence they have witnessed would be a primary influence for their behaviour&quot;, the influence does not absolve individual criminal responsibility. Imagine for a second that you managed to prove that in a particular case, witnessing violence was the primary influence. We know that this is an anomaly, because we've already done the experiment. We have a control group of people in history who did not consume visual media in the same way we do. Violence is less magnificent when recited over a campfire, compared to the sort of spectacle torture you'd find at a cinema playing Saw 3. If you've ever seen a Saw movie, or something like 300, I'm sure you noticed how glorified the violence is. A team of people, who spend years learning to arrange cameras, adjust lighting, and construct sets, got together to make an experience that exceeds the twisted imagination of most people's nightmares. It's delicate and beautiful, and quite impressive, and it's beyond disgusting. If you looked at this as an alien, you'd naturally say that such a monument to violence could only be created in a society that loved violence. This is the logical extrapolation, however, we have become less violent despite the exposure to more creative and artistic violence in media. There is no way you could contend that media violence consumed in a naturalistic setting causes violence directly. Establishing this principle moves the burden of proof onto those who think models in the media cause body-image disorders. You can give me loads of examples of individual people who had a bad experience with media, I can't deny them, but it's not proof that there is a cause and effect relationship between models in the media and anorexia.
(I will note that none of this is definitively proven in a controlled setting, that is probably because it is too difficult to test properly. Given the circumstances under which media is usually consumed, however, there is no reason to think that the results of a hypothetical lab experiment would actually be useful anyway.)
An alternative to top-down media censorship + the individual and his/her relationship to media.
You have a strong leg to stand on in the case of the sugar-tax, because the taxpayer has to account for obesity and its relatives on the NHS. So the intervention of the state could be justified economically. This is a little different because the UK has tangled itself up in this godawful mess for many reasons, most of which aren't any use to either of our points.
I've noticed when you wrote about the sugar-tax, there is a theme whereby you seem to think of the media-consumer relationship in a specific way. The way you speak about people seems to presume that they are passive thralls at the mercy of the media. There is no doubt that media informs people's worldview, but when you consume media (like reading what I've written) you don't act as if you are powerless.
You actually formed your own ideas about what I wrote. Some of it you agreed with, some of it you thought was wrong, would I be correct in assuming that your ability to rebuke the media I constructed was the result of your own individual critical faculties?
When you have something that is so effective at assessing and making actionable value judgements - just by virtue of being a human, with the capacity to think for yourself - the top-down state enforced solution to bad media influences seems superfluous. Not only is it unnecessary, but it is actually worse. I say this because I've not seen any convincing evidence that state action taken in censoring the media has produced an enduring and widespread pattern of improvement in mental health. If anything it has got worse as we defer our critical powers to the state. (Admittedly this could also be a result of better mental health screening.) Additionally, you are not going to be in a situation without your brain. You are almost definitely going to be in a situation where you can't check in with the the media officiators.
There is tonnes of media, unimaginable amounts of images to check through and censor. Even a law, with its wide net, can't be thorough enough to account for your specific needs. As individual people, we have powers of scrutiny that dwarfs any system the state could create. Not only are we better at it, but it's way more concentrated on things that are important to you. I'd like to illustrate this by comparing a floodlight to a laser; the floodlight lights a big area, while the laser can only cover a tiny area - but the laser can burn through a titanium plate, while the floodlight just makes a shadow behind it.
How attractiveness is a biological phenomenon, and how censorship would paradoxically support the idea that physical beauty is a valid determination of human worth.
You said &quot;However, like my earlier example about sugar tax, putting less slender and airbrushed models would lead the way for diversity and help people feel confident in their own skin, for example of a plus sized model&quot;. You tacitly suggest there, that if the models used influence people into becoming eating disordered, and plus size models don't, the acquisition of a plus-size body is not as desirable. Why else would they not feel confident in their body when presented with an image of Sasha Luss. If people are more attractive bigger, then how come the thinner people are paid to be models, and they are envied? If everyone agrees that Sasha Luss is creating unattainable beauty standards, because they are so high, does this not mean that there is an element of beauty objectively better embodied in her? If it was essentially interchangeable, and every shape could be beautiful, there would be no problem in Naomi Campbell being a sort of thin-beautiful because all beauties are equal? It would be natural to employ lots of different types of beautiful to garner the widest audience. This doesn't happen, people know which sort of person they like to look at.
I do not think this is a bad thing because I do not think physical beauty is the entire worth of a person. At the very least, I'm sure we can agree on that.
The argument goes, should I be allowed to play devils advocate, that the media reproduces a specific vision of beauty that is only given primacy in society because it is powerful, not because of its intrinsic features. This would justify your fear that media saturation is insidious as it devalues people, despite them being equally beautiful, but in a different way.
The science is absolutely clear, there is nothing subjective about physical attractiveness. There are small cultural influences, but they converge in very definite, empirically proven manifestations. Determinations of attractiveness have incredibly high inter-rater reliability, and the evidence correlates with proceptive behaviours recorded on dating sites. The response I usually get to this is; &quot;Then why don't people all chose the same person?&quot;. The answer is &quot;they would if all other things are equal&quot;. Of course, the most attractive person ever (Jane Levy) has the most choice and doesn't choose everyone, so we negotiate the best partner we can find. In the real world there are lots of abstract considerations when picking a mate; are they healthy, trustworthy, do they have status, money or the equivalent resources, and so forth? Which one is most important, maybe it's worth not picking Jane Levy because Audrey Tautou is a much better partner choice? This cannot occur between people you only see on a glossy cover because you are not interacting with them as you would a holistic person.
You mentioned race as well, I believe that discussing the psychology surrounding the attractiveness of races will get me banned. There are a few reputable sources you can look at in your own time if you like. Broadly, people date inside their own race, if we assume that this means people are attracted to their own race, then it would follow that the racial majority would be most represented in modelling careers owing to the cultural advantage employing them (widest target audience). There is by no means a lack of racial diversity in modelling and entertainment media fields. To be a model, it isn't important which race you are, you just have to be a good model - as it should be.
How maintaining the freedoms of the individual is the best argument you have but don't realise it.
Because you are arguing from a place of compassion, it is difficult to imagine an opposition that comes from the same place. We are both shooting for the same target. Although it sounds harsh, I think empowering people with personal responsibility and critical abilities is a more efficacious and more actionable solution. You are well within your rights to have a personal idea of beauty that deviates from society, you are able to make up your mind about the majority opinion represented in the media. If you dislike it, you can find a different media outlet and promote that with your patronage, because any image is acceptable; fat, thin, black, white, tall, or short etc. If you censor the media, however, you actually take away that right (e.g - only attainable &quot;average&quot; body types should model. Or; &quot;only this many white people should be shown in magazines&quot
. If you think this is the best way to go, then do what you think is right. I'd just urge you to seriously think about if you'd actually be doing the best overall good for people, or if there might be other ways to approach it.
Firstly, I am going to be studying my GCSEs in September but I did start some courses early(Mathematics, English Literature, Religious Education)- I'm going into year 10 in September 😀 and I'm doing English Literature, English Language, Mathematics, Double Science (I got rejected from Triple Science) and Religion Education as my compulsory GCSEs and History, French, Drama, and Spanish as an extra.
I'll be briefer because your post is so long, so forgive me for not picking out all of your, may I add, very strong, points. Of course societal influences are only a factor in what happens and shouldn't be fully responsible like violence influencing a murder case or television advertisements influencing unhealthy eating habits leading to obesity. I believe that when it comes to physical attractiveness, although admittedly we cannot change the fact that it is subjective, we should promote many kinds of beauty and that is the point that I am attempting to get across, and that fashion should promote diversity to stop people thinking they should be tanned, slim, blue eyed or whatever, etc. Although people know what they Like, we as a society should promote all types of beautiful, no matter what. Of course consuming media items does not make one powerless but there is a way in which people are convinced to pick these up by the influence of society as these media items are often romanticized or 'bigged up'.
I did not mean to imply we should censor the media, but allow the people the right to the media, however I'm saying that within this there should be a change in recruitment of models-thinking logically if more variations of models were employed, and else rejected (if of course this recruitment system was plausible) then hypothetically it would feel inclusive to people. If they didn't like it, like the point you and, they are not powerless and would not indulge in the media. This would prevent some types of people from buying these consumer products, of course, but more people would feel included (though I'm not saying this should be the point of these products although it could potentially be) which would look good for them. More models =more jobs. Assistant jobs, manager jobs, make up jobs, modelling jobs, which would surely be more beneficial than gaining money from the promotion of artificial beauty. Yes, it would take away careers from other more vital sectors, but if the unemployed would volunteer and we had a variety of people we could help them by providing them with shelter, food and water for their work. Of course this would an expensive to perform, however modelling agencies could gain trust funds to do this. This would make them look good, which sounds like a hypocritical point, but I'm temporarily attempting to think of things from their perspective .
Yes, the metaphorical laser only covers a small area, but that area is still fairly big if you thinking the scale of the fashion industry and its reach comparatively.
Of course, you are not connecting with a person and only seeing a glossy cover, however think of the vast numbers of people who read this and how many would, as the name suggests, model themselves off said people. Of course, this may not be many, but if it is a factor in someone's death it's still a human life and it it's a huge primary factor (if they are an easily persuaded and naive adolescent who uses a lot of consumer products such as these magazines or platforms like Instagram where they can see these models (though I'm fully aware Instagram is so much more than this) and frequently see them then, of parental intervention had been acquired, said death could have been prevented, but of course you cannot blame that, as there will be many factors.
For example, in the aforementioned hypothetical murder case, violent influences from the media wouldn't have taken away responsibility for the murder as said person acted with mens rea and other factors woild have come into it, such as an event that gave the murderer a hatred for their victim. My point is, even if models do factor into it, it is not s primary cause however is still important, but you couldn't charge them for manslaughter because it was a small factor and because these companies are huge- my point is that the media can help to cause that.
Sorry to ignore any points but I'm pretty sure that my argument is fairly valid or at least ok (for a 14 year old anyway). Thankyou for evaluating and pointing out the flaws in my sub standard arguments and for spending your time debating this in a civil, sensible and intelligent waywith me.
Purple monkeys xoxo