Saturday, August 19, 2006

Ask the Faithful Readers #3 - Misleading Societal Messages

Dear Faithful Reader,

Last night I was reading this site when I ran across this recent photo of Lionel Richie's daughter Nicole. This picture reminded me that our society delivers plenty of misleading messages to young people (and to all of us) regarding relationships. One such message is that in order to appeal to the guys, girls should be Hollywood skinny and Hollywood beautiful. This leaves many attractive and healthy young women feeling unnecessarily inadequate and insecure, to the point where some try to make themselves look like that picture. Many young people are too self-conscious to try dating because they feel they don't measure up. Even for those who are in relationships, the resultant feelings of low self-esteem can present obstacles for many couples.

This week's question is not specifically about weight or body image, though. That is just one example of a message about relationships we receive from our friends and parents, from TV and movies. I am interested to know what other types of misleading messages you notice. What sorts of false expectations set us up for trouble with our partner?

Signed, The Inquiring Advice Guy

Comments are preferable for this one (rather than emails), since I'm sure everyone would like to see the responses. I will post my personal favorite next week with a link to the winner's blog.

47 comments:

  1. (psst-- you can delete this part-- that's Lionel Richie's DAUGHTER)

    I remember my mom being so terrified I was going to have a weight problem like my father. She was always asking me how much I weigh and commenting when I had gained weight or acting like it was the greatest thing if I lost it. I KNOW she was not intending to do this, but the end result was I just sort of stopped eating except the dinner meal we had together. Eventually I started again, but she still asks me about it all the time.

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  2. No advice as yet, just wanted to point out that Nicole is Lionel Richie's daughter not his wife. She recently claimed that stress is what has caused her to become this skinny... I do wish that stress thinned me instead of thickened! That said, I feel the desire to be skinny not so much for hollywood ideals, but more for ability to fit in clothing. Perhaps we should turn to our fashion industry or major chain stores to figure out what we need to do?

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  3. Oops! Thanks ... all fixed now.

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  4. As a young woman myself, I think Nicole looks far too skinny. I'm a "slender" young lady and I am happy with my weight but .. I actually wouldn't mind gaining a few pounds because sometimes I look in the mirror and think "too skinny." I don't think skinny is all that attractive - I find curves to be much prettier.

    That said, everyone has their own body type. And each body type is beautiful in it's own unique way. Girls are you listening? THERE IS NO "RIGHT" WAY TO LOOK FOR ALL OF US! WE DO NOT ALL NEED TO FIT THE SAME MOLD!

    We are all beautiful individuals. Some of us may need to lose weight for our health and if that is why we choose to diet, that is perfectly fine. Talk to you doctor before you ever start a diet and make sure it's healthy for you. Some of us may need to gain weight for our health - like Nicole. Again, talking to your doctor wouldn't be a bad idea.

    I think every single one of us deserves to be happy in our own skin. And I don't think anyone has the right to tell us we are not beautiful just because we don't fit the false expectations the entertainment business has instilled into our society.

    I have a challenge for us all today. Usually we look in the mirror and we see all of our flaws. Today, forget about them. Look at the mirror and find your beauty. Don't think you've got a speck of beauty on you? Well I do. Dare you to find it!

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  5. I am tired of seeing sex everywhere.

    Lord, I sound like an old lady.

    I remember being a teen and thinking that it must be incredibly exciting. After all, it was depicted that way in movies.

    But it was something I wasn't ready for and maybe might have waited on if I had received different messages from the media.

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  6. Anonymous12:50 PM

    I come from a very loving and supportive family...however, a family that celebrates physical prowess and beauty. From the time I was little, I was always "made of" for being a pretty little girl with a natural athletic ability.

    When I was in my early twenties, I put on about 60lbs and the backlash I experienced from that scarred me forever. The compliments virtually stopped and people began behaving completely different around me. As a former athlete, I had never experienced what it was like to have a "weight problem" until then. The awkward reactions and inquiries from friends and family ("what happened to YOU??"), the shunning from men and the subliminal disapointment I felt from people was too much to bear. It is possible this was all in my head, but I couldn't ignore it any longer.

    Now, at 27 and with the weight mostly off, I find myself absolutely terrified to ever return to such a state...and virtually obsessed with achieving a different physicality. This has me constantly quantifying food rather then enjoying it, and exercising until my joints feel they may give way. I know that there are MANY women out there who feel the same.

    Women are constantly renovating themselves in order to meet some illusory image of perfection. Even women who society would label as images of perfection still seem to feel inadequate about their physical selves. This is very evident in TV interviews of celebrities...especially on "E True Hollywood Story"...where you see seemingly "perfect" women like Paula Abdul confessing a constant battle with an eating disorder. I feel that this is one of the most unfortunate elements in our society today....and its only getting worse. It truly makes me wish I was born in a hut in Africa, where such propaganda doesn't have influence on the growth and development of the individual.

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  7. Fishy 2 sends her love. ;D

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  8. I agree with you. Beauty does not necessarily being too skinny. Keeping control of weight is one thing and going towards excessive is other.

    Nice post as usual.

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  9. The "appropriate weight" issue is certainly an important one, but it is just one example that fits today's question. What OTHER misleading messages about relationships do you encounter?

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  10. I have to agree with you. Everyone thinks they have to be super skinny to look attractive and if not they feel ugly. I think one should be concerned about the health issues surrounding obesity rather than the looks.

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  11. I have a friend that always chose loser guys cause she had low self esteem. She was a big girl with health issues, and a single mom. I heard the other day that she had gastric banding and now is teeny tiny. I asked, how is she doing in relationships has she found anyone? My friend tells me no, she still dates losers.

    Honestly people who are alittle overweight can be alot more healthy than the super skinny. Look at fertility, and just nutrition. I think the super skinny and the obese don't have as many differences in their outlooks/behaviors.

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  12. An all too often misleading message is that our outward physical bodies empower confidence, strength and control. It doesn't, the empowerment always comes from within. The secret is not in how we see ourselves but where we see ourselves. Just like headlights empower us to see what lies ahead.

    Focusing on our physical bodies is equal to a stage performer under a spotlight. He only can see and we can only see where he is at, not where he is going or where he is driving to get. Spotlighting breeds self conscious notions and fears, squandering confidence, control and strength.

    In a sense we all should be inside looking out and forward. Mirrors only reflect our focus back. Ditch the mirrors and the notion that body size, appearance has what it takes to be successful. It doesn't.

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  13. .... it only hinders our view.

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  14. Well.. the weight charts don't help either. When I was slim, I wore size 10 and weighed 160 lbs...

    According to the weight chart, I was overweight... LOL But I was skinny ...

    Now that I am dealing with prednisone, I have a very different idea about weight. I try to keep my hunger under control, but I don't worry about the extra pounds... It is better to be healthy and chunky, then slim and dead.

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  15. 1) As you mentioned I think that society pushes that self image is the important part of our lives. If you skinny enough you will be pretty, if you are pretty enough you will be rich, and married, and happy. If you are not pretty enough you will fail, be poor and single.

    2) I think society believes and pushes that love is shown by sex, and that sex is worthy of anyone who says they love you. Society does not hold sex as sacred, within marriage as it once was and in my opinion as it should be.

    3) I also think society pushes that "stuff" makes you important. The kids with cell phones, and lap tops. And "everyone else" has these items. They [being society] seem to push that the more you have, the happier you'll be.

    I'm sure people will disagree with me, but hey it's just my opinion!

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  16. Thanks for your comment on my blog today. I have just started looking at yours. Just wanted you to know that I had also written a post on Hollywood celebrity marriages. You can read it here.

    I think that TV shows and movies lead their viewers to assume that sex is the most important factor in a relationship (that it is what drives it) and, in most TV series and romantic movies, people always have phenomenal sex (I have not really paid close attention to interactions between partners that usually lead to sex, but it seems that Hollywood also stereotypes that.) I think that kind of focus is misguided. Not that sex is not important, of course it is, but there is way more to a relationship than that.

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  17. I certainly notice the emphasis on materialism that our society throws our way. Everytime you turn on the tv or radio, the ads are unrelenting...you NEED an expensive car (complete with a big red bow on top)....house perfectly decorated (just watch H&G network)... and gadgets of every sort. You must have the latest iPod, computer, cell phone (with a camera no less)....video games for your kids...I mean the list is endless. Now, I personally did not grow up in a materialistic environment. But,I think it is easy to sometimes feel that we are missing out if we don't keep up, putting extra unnecessary strain on a marriage. After all, it costs alot of money to buy all that "stuff". But then again, it IS just stuff, right?

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  18. I have a huge list of disturbing messages sent in movies and on TV! Depictions of relationships are abysmal, is it any wonder our divorce rate is so high? Young girls are led to believe that their relationships will be as wonderful and exciting as those they see on their favorite TV shows. They also see sick, sick relationships with no permanent commitment in place, be returned to again and again. It seems as though they are being taught they'll either get prince charming and have no troubles the rest of their life, or, they'll get their super cool boyfriend who's a complete jerk, but looks nice so they should stand by their man. Some shows even glamorize manufactured drama in relationships. If you watch the right shows, you'll see scores of young women who think it's cool to be high maintenance.

    How about that ridiculous show "My Super Sweet Sixteen"? I've never seen such poorly behaved teenagers, and their parents have no trouble at all just catering to their every whim, regardless of how ungrateful and rotten their children behave.

    Showing off excessive wealth also seems to be a major theme in shows directed at the viewing public. Trying to get your kids to have a realistic view of money is tough enough without commercials telling them they need everything they see. American's are drowning in debt, and is it any wonder? Why own a Ford when every tv show you see shows you that the cool people are driving BMW's? Instead of building true wealth, we want to drive great cars and live in custom built homes with swimming pools, whether we can afford it or not. Basics aren't good enough anymore.

    In that same vein, what about work? How do all our favorite hero's and heroines earn a living?! The "Friends" never really worked. People on TV all have housekeepers, never do laundry, and they can buy whatever they want. Hard work and pride in a job well done doesn't make good TV. "Money for Nothing" could be the nations theme song! Rags to riches is the American way, but more and more, you'll notice that any hint of the hard work gone through to acheive success is left behind on the cutting room floor.

    I think the whole media frenzy has added up to a large number of viewers who forget that not everyone gets to be rich and famous and no one has a perfect life. There is a growing sense of entitlement with each passing generation. I think it also affects the political climate in this country as people try and figure out how to get something for nothing. They believe that "SOMEONE" should provide them with everything they are entitled to, which leads to greater and greater dependence on government and less and less responsibility for taking care of one's own security. (Think Katrina here folks!)

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  19. I think a destructive message in our society is that marriage will complete and fulfill you, and if you find the right person, you will live happily ever after. We spend the first 20-30 years of our lives looking for that "right person" in the hopes that we will finally have the happiness we've always wanted. People believe that a good strong marriage equals eternal bliss.

    I believe many people ARE married to the "right" person -- but since they are not ALWAYS happy, they think there's something wrong, they must have married the wrong person, and they head for divorce court.

    We pay lip service to the idea that "marriage is hard" but the movies we tend to watch, the romance novels people read, and the music we listen to doesn't reinforce that idea. The media romanticizes the "pursuit" of the right person -- like that is the Holy Grail of life -- then leaves us hanging out there all alone to deal with it.

    Just my two cents...

    (And thanks for commenting on my blog!)

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  20. anorexia at its best

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  21. When I was young and skinny (5'2"---95#) there was a song called "When You Wore Size 12---A Perfect Size 12"---The smallest dress sizes then were at the House of 7's and 9's. So, where did these people come from who wear a size 0 or a 2? And, how much would they weigh? Today a size 12 is just 2 sizes away from the fat girl shop. If every dress size represents 10 more pounds --- God help the size 16 woman. I can't even fathom what is hiding under a size 24!!! Gee, Andrew, I think the Madison Avenue folks have been working a number on us to sell things ---- ever changing "stuff"!

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  22. WOW! I couldn't stop reading all of your posts! exceleent daily read. I noticed that you commented on my swap pals blog (vickinknits) and was curious about your blog... really glad i dropped by, will be adding you to my bloglines pronto!

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  23. TV is about selling things or , better yet, trying to get you to buy things. regardless if it's a TV show or commercial. As a person you're not going to buy anything if you don't feel the need. Hence the show and or ad has to make you feel like you need their product. Once of the ways is to make you feel like you're not complete without their product. My particular angst is how relationships are portrayed, everyone wants to story book ending and I think we are breainwashed that we deserve the story book ending. The time and sometimes hard work that a relationship needs is never reflected.

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  24. Hello Andrew,

    I think this is wonderful idea to explore the various aspects of relationship through blogging. I'm probably going to dig in your blog and read a bit.

    This is one area which is my favorite and especially when I am single and exploring my own freedom and learing about unconditonal love to oneself...which i feel is the basis for all relationships.

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  25. Another thought - As my daughter was growing up (she will be 20 in a few weeks), we spent a lot of time discussing the vacuity of TV shows and Hollywood movies. I think that I did my best to lead her to differentiate fiction from reality. What is depicted on TV is NOT real life, it is just fiction. If you watch those show without a critical eye, you may be engulfed in a vortex of very bad illusions about what life and relationships are about.

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  26. The drive to make women perfect is a hard one. Here in the South, there is a lot of pressure for the wife to be "perfect." Clean house, take care of the kids, hot meals every night, and be fine if hubby "needs" to go out with his friends, cause he is the major breadwinner after all. Very 1955. Let's not even get into the beauty standards, there is enough pressure with just that stuff!

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  27. Sex, body image and what is considered desireable is suppose to be based on individual taste but who are we fooling? We are attracted first to the opposite sex and then we look at what is on the inside. What is so sad is that body image and what is considered the goal of the young person is to go for the "hottie" as defined by music videoes, magazines and movie/television. This is still the general mentality of America and who we are kidding to think America has evolved beyond that. Sex sells and America is buying. But at what cost?

    When interviewed a majority of women admit that while looking at ads on television or in magazines of "perfect" beautiful women they become depressed.

    Media does have a powerful influence on all of us. There are victims though. Young girls in elementary school are now dieting and starving to death to look like the videos, television Barbies and magazines. Teenagers are seekling plastic surgery and boob jobs. Even young men are falling into the "perfect" trap with excessive workouts, steroid use and dieting.

    Every two minutes or less on any given time we are bombarded by commercials telling us how sick we are , how fat we are and that we can never achieve the perfect look or be the perfect person without buying what they are selling. It is all so wrong. But what are we to do? Self images of Americans are badly lacking. We fear aging and we fear death. We are so afraid of getting old and unless you are a multi million dollar movie star selling trash and fluff yuo better face reality.
    I am a bulimic and have and at one time been anorexic.It is a daily battle. I cannot ever look at fashion magazines ever! I also am quick with the remote. Sounds horrid but I do a lot less bingeing and purging if I keep the nonsense out of my head and that means the media! I think America needs to clean up but we all know that is a fairytale wish on my part. Afterall, who cares about teenagers having sex at 10, or young girls dying to look like the Nicole Ritchies of the world? Who cares about getting STDs and AIDs? I do!!! That is who and maybe we all should that care just say no to the rubbish that bombards our senses.
    Does low self image hurt relationships. Oh ,yes. It is a battle to maintain dignity and not to wallow in self loathing when faced with the idea we can never be perfect like the beautiful people. That is just an illusion though. they are no tperfect and their perfect self images and what they do to achieve it are not healthy.
    But.... when you do meet a quality person who is truly beautiful inside you know what? The relationship is fulfilling and for real. Let teh fake people keep their shallow lives . I want to get old and gray and fat with the love of my life. :o)

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  28. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. Yours is a good read!

    Here are my Top 3 Myths Perpetuated by Society:

    1. Men are always horny; women seldom are. Men only want sex and no commitment; women want commitment and babies, and once they get them, they're not interested in sex.

    2. Children consume mass media non-stop, diss their parents, and crave everything they see advertised on television.

    3. Society expects bad behavior to begin in middle school. The teachers at my children's school seem to expect boys to be bullies and girls to suffer from the mean girl syndrome. When did THAT start? I don't remember any of that way back in the stone age when I went to middle school.

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  29. My take on some of the misleading messages in today's TV shows: If you aren't popular, you're nothing. And that it's "okay" to abandon one's moral standards nowadays because "everybody's doing it."

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  30. Has anyone else ever seen the commercial where Woman 1's son cuts in front of Woman 2's son in line for the slide at the playground, so Woman 2, feeling powerless, goes out and trades her minivan for a Hummer? What a sick idea. "I have so little sense of self that I go to pieces over some utterly trivial rudeness and have to go out and buy the biggest, least efficient, most unnecessary vehicle on the road to make myself feel worthy." (Sorry, not a weight issue, but definitely a self-worth issue.)

    *****

    I figured I had made one more step towards adulthood when I stopped wishing I had smaller thighs and got mad at the clothing industry for not making clothes that fit pear-shaped girls. I've never really been overweight--I'm out of shape and need to do something about that, but I don't worry about my size. I grew up without Barbie and with a mother who never dieted or shopped-til-she-dropped, and boy, am I glad.

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  31. I really can't answer this Andrew, since I don't watch tv or movies. I know that a LOT of garbage is being tossed out there for our youth to interpret as they will... but I can't be specific because I gave up watching it so long ago. I DO find this to be a very interesting subject - and I'm glad you brought it to your blog! I've read all the responses thus far ... people DO seem to be fixated on the self-image issue - but that probably IS the biggest one. I'll be back to read what others say. Great topic!

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  32. I think one of the most damaging myths about relationships is that when two people click they will go on to live happily ever after. Real life isn't like that and real marriages are hard work. Even great marriages take effort, patience, understanding and endless willingness to compromise from both parties. It's so easy to get drawn into the rush of first love and to expect that everything will be sunshine and roses and while that part is fun, the truly rewarding part of having a life partner is precisely getting through the ups and downs of everyday life.

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  33. Thanks for visiting my blog! =) I agree, the media and society has really tainted what we think is beautiful. Nicole is too skinny!

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  34. great blog.

    Stress CAN do this to a person. It doesnt make it safe or ok but it happened to me last year (I still am not anywhere near this thin though as I started out a lot heavier lol). Unfortunately this girl isnt getting the help she needs... which leads me to some of my top society misconceptions:

    1.Rich people are happier than poor people.
    2. Thin people are happier than heavy people.

    I think that the grass is just perpetually greener on the other side for most people.

    thanks for visiting today btw!

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  35. Can I just point out that 'Hollywood beautiful' is so NOT beautiful. That's the scary part. Since when did starving to death become a turn-on?

    OK, back to the question at hand.

    The biggest false expectation that sets us up for trouble with our partner is that having children will suddenly catapault you into lifelong domestic bliss.

    Child focused domestic bliss, the next step after the white wedding dream, is pushed at us from all angles, even most of the parenting magazines (who should know better). Ever noticed the serious lack of sleepless nights and domestic grind (except for comic purposes) in Hollywood movies? TV is a little more realistic, even Sex and the City featured screeching babies albeit in a 'lite' form, but how the hell did Miranda manage to fund a nanny, lots of nights out with the girls, a Manhattan apartment AND a serious Manolo habit?

    The fact that we expect to be united in harmony over the baby carriage is the biggest misconception perpetrated in the annals of history (well, maybe I exaggerate slightly, but you know where I'm coming from...) and does us all a disservice. The less harmony we expect with our lover during parenthood (especially in surviving year one), the less disappointment we will suffer and the easier it will be to bear. Then we can get away from the anger we feel at being 'cheated' (i.e. but why isn't it like it is in the movies) and get on with real life, which is at best, let's face it, miles of tedium interspersed with moments of pure beauty.

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  36. Samantha9:55 AM

    being a girl i still have to take a stand for all the men out there: i believe it can be nearly impossible for a man to satisfy all the needs and hopes a young girl might have. let's take a look at some of the issues they encounter:

    1) girls want a guy who is attentive - BUT not too much because then he is being needy or whatever.

    2) girls want a guy who is a good listener, good talker, shows his feelings blah... but if he does so he is very fast considered a loser - or gay.

    3) girls are attracted to bad boys - but bad boys (as implied) are BAD.

    4) guys should be good looking - but not too good because then she'll have self-esteem issues because other girls might check him out.

    5) jealousy: if he's not jealous, he doesn't love us enough. if he's jealous, he is a control freak.

    ... man, this list is endless - you get the idea.

    in search of mister right the normal guy just doesn't stand a chance in the eyes of many girls. he has to be a brad pitt (angel face), colin farrell (bad boy), chad micheal murray (sexy, shy), jim carrey (entertaining)... at the same time. because that's what the movies show us girls.

    good luck, guys!

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  37. #1 misconception in relationships:

    "If you really loved me, you'd KNOW what I need. I shouldn't have to tell you." Love makes need meeting intuitive. It doesn't. Needs must be identified and clearly articulated.

    #2 Misconception: "My spouse should meet all my needs" Ummmm... yeah, no. My spouse can't exactly relate to pms, ya gotta have girlfriends.

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  38. That picture is awful!! I feel terrible for her that she obviously has some issues with food/eating!

    When the whole anorexia thing with Mary Kate Olson happened we had a talk with our daughter about the difference between being healthy and being thin. We continue to have this conversation with her as she gets older and no doubt some of her friends will develop eating disorders. I'm 32 and in high school I remember the sounds of girls vomiting in the bathroom after lunch...always made me sad for them!

    Great post!

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  39. Disposable relationships.

    Celebrity marriages are celebrated with million dollar weddings, and then with multi-million dollar divorces just a short time later. There seems to be no stick -to-itiveness in celebrity relationships, no acknowledgement that along with the good times come the bad times, and that a real-life, adult marriage can and must endure and survive both, just as promised in the wedding vows. There's an ebb and flow to relationships, some days you'll love each other, and other days you may hate each other, but with real affection and committment you work through the hard times, and don't throw each other away when the going gets rough.
    Romance isn't all about hearts, flowers and candlelit dinners. Real romance is also about the everyday work that goes into keeping a relationship afloat. It's not always easy, and sometimes it's not pretty, but I can imagine spending a 40th or 50th wedding anniversary with my husband, and looking back over a life well-lived with a partner well-chosen. Our relationship is not disposable and we are reaping the benefits as we go.

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  40. We are all in a constant state of self improvement or change either through self empowerment or self destruction. The brain is pretty vunerable to beauty and they have done studies about why "beauty" is so prized. Thinness, beautiful hair and skin, glamorous clothes and shoes, stylish jewlery and accessories, a fast rad car, mega crib with all the ammenities, drinking the right drink, eating at the right restuarant, vacationing at the hot spot, cool shades and a killer tan give the illusion of a life lived. If you look like that, you must have that kind of life. If you have that kind of life or are percieved to people cut you some major slack. Remember the celebs walking around in FAT suits trying to show that dark side of society?
    We are all full of bullshit. Seriously. The lives we lead may be boring, stressful, tideous, hard, scary or fabulous, loving, fun and healthful. It is the perception of others that matters more sometimes. That is what we bump up against constantly.
    Keeping up the Jones' or the Nicole Richies is impossible for about 99.9 % of the population.
    It is the unattainable .1% that is so alluring because we will never have it.
    BUT we can have part of it by being thin, wearing great clothes and drinking the right champange.
    I think the idea that what we have right now, right here is never good enough is a sad state and is harmful to everyone.
    No one is happy all the time but you can be satisfied with what you have and realize that the material or external shit, doesn't really make your life any better, only more expensive.

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  41. I'll give you a misleading message - all those cutesy decorating magazines with great "ideas" for kids rooms. Don't they know that the #1 relationship stressor is home renovations???? Forget financial woes and sex hangups - it's home renovating that will be the solid acid test of a true and stable relationship! I've been married for 9 years and we've learned a few things my wonderful husband and I;
    1.Wallpaper is evil. It should never be attempted by more than one person. We are now paint people.
    2. Painting a kids room is best done when the kids are asleep (in another room of course) and do not step in paint and get blue footprints tracked down the hallway. this also eliminates the "who's to blame for not watching the kids while I was painting" argument.
    3. Always tell your wife they look way better than those stick thin celebrities. This has nothing to do with painting, but will make your wife feel good, and more likely to forgive when you spend several hundred dollars at Home Depot.

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  42. Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia etc)are not a problem per se but a symptom of something else. They often put the subject in a position of high attention which nourishes them; the underlying cause is what should be tackled.
    However, to answer the question that has been posed more directly, (what other kinds of misleading messages can we see?)I have noticed that over adoring and totally non-critical mothers can produce the kind of husband that is descibed by 'Working Hard' who posted the original question. They send the wrong message to their sons and then their sons learn it from their dads!

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  43. Cultural misconception?

    Men are from Venus Women are from Mars.....
    Ummm I'm not an alien. (been saving that joke for years..;)

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  44. Wow, great comments! I'm glad I 'found' your blog!

    Today, I purchased a book that deals with disappointment. I'm actually feeling guilty about admitting this because I have a 17+yr marriage, 4 great children, a beautiful home, enough disposable income to indulge in Starbucks, and yet...Does that give you a clue about how I've been misled?

    Cmommy (http://singalullaby.typepad.com)

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  45. Movies, TV serials and ads are pretty misleading as they either idealise things or go to extremes while portraying something.

    For instance, the Indian soaps usually portray women as "silent sufferers" putting up with whatever the husband does. Or in some cases, as a strong woman who takes on the world but is all alone at the end of the day.

    Indian movies have this funny way of portraying girlfriends and wives very differently. For example, if the girlfriend becomes the wife, she undergoes a wardrobe and personality change. The clothes are more traditional and she becomes more docile while she would have been very aggressive as the girlfriend, flaunting herself in skimpy outfits.

    My son, all of 7 years old, asks me why I can't be like the slim models on TV. I tell him they get paid to be that way. He is not convinced. He feels cheated out of having a "beautiful" mom. Gone are the days when kids thought their mom was the best, however she was. I tell him that I am beautiful and sexy. He thinks I am lying. But thankfully, at least I believe myself.

    Though the Advertising Council dictates that ads must not be targeted at kids, almost all ads are made to appeal to kids - whatever the product category. And the nag factor is not to be discounted.

    Advertising sometimes makes people buy stuff they can do without. Mobile phone models keep changing by the week. And my husband has changed four phones in the last couple of years while I have hung on to the same phone (despite his telling me that he'll buy me a new one) for the past four years as it still works. So what if I can't e-mail or take photos with it.

    Junk foods with little or no nutritive value are advertised widely with freebies like Pokemon cards thrown in. Kids want these junk foods more for the freebies and pester parents, who have a tough time convincing them.

    AIDS campaigners would have you believe that sex is okay with multiple partners as long as you use protection. Why can't they say keep away from multiple partners?! As if monogamy is a bad word!

    I remember during a recent civil unrest, the news channels kept showing a few violent images over and over again, creating the illusion that the entire city was under terrible unrest. The truth was in certain pockets there was violence, which was contained. But worried relatives from out of town thought that there was continued large-scale violence.

    Images seen in the media must be absorbed with a pinch of salt. What the camera shows is a selective picture - not the whole picture.

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  46. Increasingly I find that TV, other media and society at large, all bombard you with the message that everything comes from externals. So for marital happiness you need to be married to good-looking, well-to-do partner; for other happiness you have to have the 'in' high-paying job; for self-esteem, you have to be packaged well, drive a,b,c car or wear x,y,z label; for peace of mind you have to follow the 'in' thing(yoga, tai chi, whatever) and maybe go through the motions of the religion you follow. But the fact is neither happiness--of any kind--, sense of self-worth nor peace of mind, can come from outside and neither are any of them easy to achieve. But the over-riding message seems to be 'instant' gratification. These messages put an immense strain on relationships and life as a whole, is what I feel.

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  47. I think the media/TV/Films have plastered the notion that marriages don't last. How often do we hear about divorce rates and failed marriages?

    We get hourly updates on who is married, divorced or fighting. Who is cheating on whom? How big was the ring because only big rings count?

    It also glorifies living together (which I don't exactly have serious problem with-- except when it comes to my daughters. I lived with their father first and I think that was a mistake).

    Is it too much to ask to raise our expectations of relationship instead of lowering them?

    Nowadays instead of looking for our true life partner, it seems many people are looking for Mr. Right Now-- and when the going gets tough, they trade him in for a new model.

    Lying, cheating, skinny, rich and fabulously dressed is how we should all be and act-- this is not the real world and this is not how most people act.

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