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Tuesday, June 18, 12:44:15Login ] [ Contact Forum Admin ] [ Main index ] [ Post a new message ] [ Search | Check update time | Archives: 123[4]567 ]
Subject: Women can be beautiful and sexy in many ways

By Daniel J. Bauer
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Date Posted: 01/10/05 7:00:15am

The National Organization of Women (NOW) in the United States is rightly upset about a series of radio contests that are awarding free breast implant surgery to women. Radio stations affiliated with Clear Channel Communications in Tampa, Jacksonville, Detroit, St. Louis, and other cities are sponsoring the competition, called "Breast Christmas Ever."
NOW is urging people to dispatch protest letters or phone calls to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other authorities to speak out against what it terms is "a degrading and unethical contest."

Our local English newspapers are reporting part of the story of the NOW protest, but are not offering readers enough background information to enable them to appreciate the real ugliness of the situation, a scourge that adds to pressures already far too many for girls and women to stupidly strive for a so called perfect figure. To know how dehumanizing the contests are, you need to do a little homework on the Internet.

If you have rock hard sensibilities and a strong stomach, go to your computer's search engine and tap out the words Breast Christmas Ever.

Let me tell you part of what you will find. To promote the contests, several of the radio invite local plastic surgeons to appear on their programs to explain the alleged advantages of breast enlargement and other forms of cosmetic surgery for women. Some station web sites not only publish contest information, but also names and telephone numbers of doctors who do this type of surgery. The radio stations thus become advertising agents and promoters of breast surgery. Several of the stations also appeal to voyeuristic interests among their listeners by insisting that contest winners pose for before and after operation photos, which (not surprisingly) are also posted on their Web sites. One site I checked offered photographs of last year's winners. Well, "winners" is the term the radio folks used. I think "victims" or "fools" is more accurate nomenclature. Besides concerns about the crude and demeaning nature of these competitions, NOW is also worried about potential health risks for women who undergo breast enhancement surgery. NOW wants to be sure the women are well informed.

Do they realize, for example, that the procedure usually needs costly follow up treatment several years later? NOW points out that the women who win the contests must sign waivers that release the radio stations, doctors, clinics and so on from legal responsibility for problems that may occur with the operations.

Okay, so standards for quality radio appear to have slipped to a record low in the United States, and American society continues to demonstrate its long fixation on sex and new versions of The American Dream. What does dehumanizing hype about breast size and beauty have to do with us here in Taiwan?

Recent news reported the kidnapping of a prominent local plastic surgeon and the payment of a ransom for oodles of cold cash. More recent news tells us police have now arrested suspects. Publicity around the kidnapping spiced up the story by linking the surgeon to services he has allegedly provided for a bevy of formerly small-breasted entertainers. The kidnapping and highlighting of "the doctor for sex appeal" make thoughtful people wonder about all sorts of questions. One of the questions is, Why do many women in our society attach so much importance to their figures? The answer, of course, is that in many ways we pressure women into accepting unrealistic and patently inaccurate models of beauty and sex appeal.

The majority of my students and colleagues are young women, and I am quite sure many of them struggle or fret with questions of self-confidence and physical appearance. It is high time to say out loud to them and other friends that loving our body and appreciating ourselves for who we are signs of good health in all ways.

Reducing a woman's value to the size of her chest, or claiming that her beauty and appeal depend on a single asset, is flat out stupid. Women can be beautiful and sexy in many wonderful ways. Father Daniel J. Bauer SVD is a priest, associate professor, and Chair of the English Department in the School of Continuing Education at Fu Jen Catholic University.

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