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Whitney's Realtiy TV Experience: thumbs down

“The sexual division of labor at home and in the workplace produces gender-specific forms of exploitation and powerlessness.�
- Iris Marion Young, The Scaling of Bodies p. 123

It is exactly the powerlessness that Young describes above that leads women to participate in reality shows like “America’s Next Top Model.� In today’s society, if a woman is to make a living working outside the home, she must learn to accept her exploitation; women have always been viewed as objects, and it is no difference in the workplace. For this reality TV show, contestants are asked to participate in various photo shoots and activities, all of which are rather demeaning. In the episode that I watched, the required activity was to dress as a mermaid and hang upside down from a chain over a smelly fish market… while being photographed and maintaining a “sexy� appearance. The women were dressed in a mermaid-like costume, which included a barely-there bikini top and a harness. The harness was attached to a chain and pulley, and after being secured to the model, she was lifted upside down over a river and fish market in Southeast Asia. All of the women were obviously in pain from the harness, but only one spoke up. The rest maintained their silence and simply did what they were told; they did their poses and took the pain. The one model who spoke up on camera was later reprimanded for not being professional and for having the audacity to allow her facial expression to reveal pain. Since when does professionalism include physical pain and the inability to speak out? According to Mendible, this is where the humiliation side of reality TV comes in. “Humiliation involves treating human beings as if they were ‘merely things, animals, subhumans, or inferior humans’� (Myra Mendible, Humiliation, Subjectivity, and Reality TV). This is exactly what happens in America’s Next Top Model. The models are repeatedly exposed to adverse conditions just to get the perfect angle in the perfect photograph in the perfect setting. They truly are treated as if they are ‘merely things’ that can be dressed, positioned, and, as shown in this episode, effectively silenced. This TV show represents everything a woman is expected to be in today’s society, and people are making money off of selling this idea. And, since is not the first season of America’s Next Top Model, the producers apparently are doing a pretty good job of selling the idea; contestants keep applying and keep enforcing these gender roles. Needless to say, my experience with realtiy TV was not a good one.


well i beg to differ, some reality tv can be quite eye opening but in general i agree with you