Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

How We See Ourselves

We all have a certain way of viewing ourselves. Sometimes it is positive, and sometimes we are pretty hard on ourselves. So, what influences our perceptions of ourselves?

This is the question that we dealt with last week in one of my communication classes. It was a very interesting topic, so I thought that I’d share my most recent paper on it with you all!

If you have the time, skim this article (it’s the one that we read in class): Elastic Body Image

If you don’t have that kind of time, then you can skip straight to my paper. Enjoy!

Three people are sitting at a table smoking: a fit boy from Bosnia, an incredibly slim woman from the Philippines, and a slightly overweight woman from America. They are three amazingly different people with one thing in common: where they are from, their body image is not acceptable. The boy is not skinny enough, the woman is too slim, and the other woman is not skin and bones enough to fit her country’s “ideal” fantasy. As they look at each other, each of them envies the other’s body type, and cannot understand why the other people are unhappy with the way they look. This is the sort of observation that interested Myers and Biocca, and led them to conduct a study on media’s influence on young American women and their perception of their body image. What they concluded is that women hold three different images in their heads; the socially acceptable body, how they perceive their own body, and what their body really looks like (115). In order to understand why this is, Myers and Biocca evaluate the persuasive techniques of television advertisements to discover why women deal with this “elastic body image” (108).

The first thing that Myers and Biocca noted was that women are convinced when they look in a mirror that they are fat, and that this repulses them (109). Wood defines this phenomenon as a facet of nonverbal communication, stating that “based on physical qualities, we may make inferences about others’ personalities” (100). She deduces from this observation that people try to alter their physical appearance to fit an accepted “norm”; wearing contacts instead of glasses, coloring their hair, wearing makeup, and constantly dieting (101). This repulsion, however, is mostly a European/American construct. In other cultures, a larger figure represents wealth and beauty (100). Thus, the question must arise as to why American women are attracted to a slim body image and repulsed by a larger one.

The simplest answer can be found, as Myers and Biocca discovered, in advertising. For example, women want to be sexually attractive. If the models and actresses that advertisements show as desirable to men are super-slim, then women will create a subliminal observation that to be desired, they must be thin (Larson 407). Unfortunately for the average woman, “thin” will never seem thin enough. Every year the average weight of actresses and models drops (Myers & Biocca 113); women can never keep up. At the same time, scriptwriters and advertisers create a conundrum by creating what I call the “Gilmore Girls” effect. In the show Gilmore Girls, the two main female characters were always eating, consistently refused to do any sort of exercise, and yet somehow managed to get slimmer with every passing season. It is impossible to live their life and look as great as they do, a ploy used by television producers that is unfair to women.

The most interesting part of the study was the overall result observed by Myers and Biocca. After subjecting each woman in the study to a series of advertisements specially picked for their portrayal of women’s bodies, the women overwhelmingly portrayed their body as slimmer than they had before the study (127). The best conclusion that made is that this idealizing gave women hope that they may one day look as great as the women portraying the perfection in body image (127). Women like to conceptualize and idealize; if they see that someone has attained so-called “perfection”, then there is still hope that they may attain it as well.

Christian women know from reading the Bible that “charm is deceitful and beauty vain, but a woman who fears God is to be praised” (Prov. 31:30). They know that the “hidden man of the heart”(1Pet. 3:4)  is more important to God than any physical beauty. However, the impact that society has on our minds is clearly seen in Myers’ and Biocca’s study. The persuasive techniques at play here are subliminal, entering the subconscious without any cognitive recognition from the rational part of the brain (Larson 407). As a result, womens’ physical perceptions of themselves and others are skewed, thus their eternal struggle with diets, makeovers, and reinventions. It is time for society to stop demanding an ever decreasing waistline from women, and to start focusing on things of more worth than physical appearance.



So, here’s my reasoning. 5+5=10. And 5+5+10=20. Therefore, 5.5.2010 deserves a special post. (I totally forgot that today is Cinco de Mayo- but that doesn’t concern my non-Spanish speaking self.) To mark this mathematically interesting day, I thought that I’d do some lists: my top 5 movies of all time, my 5 worst movies of all time, my 20 books that you MUST read, and my top 10 songs of all time. Let the counting begin!

Best Movies:

5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

4. Two Week’s Notice

3. A&E Pride and Prejudice

2. Shadow of a Doubt

1. Relative Values

Worst Movies:

5. Murder, He said.. Interminable and insipid. To make a bad situation worse, it’s got this one character that sings a goofy little song through the movie, which gets stuck in your head for, say, ten years and counting.

4. The Long, Long Trailer. More like the long, long movie. I love Lucy and Desi, but this stretched my fandom too far.

3. You Can’t Take It With You. This might be a wonderful movie; unfortunately I can’t get past the fact that EVERYONE HAS TO YELL ALL THE TIME.

2. Life with Father. This is one uniquely talented director. He was given a great book, wonderful actors, and still he managed to produce a movie that sends me around the bend to even think about watching it again. Trust me, just read the book. You can thank me later.

1. It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Five words: four hours of Ethel Merman. *hits head repeatedly into a brick wall*

Must-Read Books:

20. The Westing Game

19. The Tempest

18. The Cellist of Sarajevo

17. Elsie Dinsmore

16. Fahrenheit 451

15. Beautiful Girlhood

14. Destination Unknown

13. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

12. Jack and Jill

11. Rose in Bloom

10. Hamlet

9. Macbeth

8. Great Expectations

7. Little Women

6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

5. Northanger Abbey

4. The Man in the Brown Suit

3. The Chronicles of Narnia

2. Lord of the Rings

1. Jane Eyre

Best Songs Ever!

10. Haven’t Met You Yet- Michael Buble.

9. Touchdown Turnaround- Hellogoodbye

8. I Can Only Imagine- MercyMe

7. Santa Maria- Gotan Project

6. Softly As I Leave You- Michael Buble

5. When It All Is Said and Done- Robin Mark

4. Hey There Delilah- Plain White Tees

3. I’m Not That Girl- Wicked, The Musical

2. Home- Michael Buble

1. Held- Natalie Grant



When I’m writing, the number 50 is really important to me. In my stories, if I can make it to page 50, then the chances are good that I’ll be able to finish it off. If I can write 50 words in a post or paper without struggling, then I know I have a good topic.

This is my 50th blog post. It’s only been four months, so I feel good about the future of this place. Fifty posts, and I’m still having fun!

In honor of the milestone, here are 50 random facts from this website. The comments in italics are mine. Enjoy!

1. If you are right handed, you will tend to chew your food on your right side. If you are left handed, you will tend to chew your food on your left side. (So, if you are ambidextrous, do you chew in the middle of your mouth?)

2. If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. For when a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.

3. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying. (Wearing contacts is much more reliable. So is holding an unlit match between your teeth. Not that I do this or anything…. *looks away*)

4. Your tongue is germ free only if it is pink. If it is white there is a thin film of bacteria on it.

5. The Mercedes-Benz motto is “Das Beste oder Nichts” meaning “the best or nothing”.

6. The Titanic was the first ship to use the SOS signal. (dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot  Not that it did them a ton of good.)

7. The pupil of the eye expands as much as 45 percent when a person looks at something pleasing.

8. The average person who stops smoking requires one hour less sleep a night.

9. Laughing lowers levels of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system. Six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults only laugh 15 to 100 times a day. (lol!)

10. The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear.

11. Dalmatians are born without spots.

12. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.

13. The ‘v’ in the name of a court case does not stand for ‘versus’, but for ‘and’ (in civil proceedings) or ‘against’ (in criminal proceedings).

14. Men’s shirts have the buttons on the right, but women’s shirts have the buttons on the left.

15. The owl is the only bird to drop its upper eyelid to wink. All other birds raise their lower eyelids.

16. The reason honey is so easy to digest is that it’s already been digested by a bee. (Um, ewwww!)

17. Roosters cannot crow if they cannot extend their necks.

18. The color blue has a calming effect. It causes the brain to release calming hormones. (The colour red has the opposite effect.)

19. Every time you sneeze some of your brain cells die.

20. Your left lung is smaller than your right lung to make room for your heart.

21. The verb “cleave” is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate.

22. When you blush, the lining of your stomach also turns red. (How do we know this? Why do we know this?)

23. When hippos are upset, their sweat turns red.

24. The first Harley Davidson motorcycle was built in 1903, and used a tomato can for a carburetor.

25. The lion that roars in the MGM logo is named Volney.

26. Google is actually the common name for a number with a million zeros.

27. Switching letters is called spoonerism. For example, saying jag of Flapan, instead of flag of Japan. (So what if I say my Mail Harry’s in the Chatholic Curch?)

28. It cost 7 million dollars to build the Titanic and 200 million to make a film about it. (I’ve not seen the whole thing, but from what bits I caught on TV they could have left out the sad ending and made it more cheaply. Not that I cried or anything.)

29. The attachment of the human skin to muscles is what causes dimples.

30. There are 1,792 steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

31. The sound you hear when you crack your knuckles is actually the sound of nitrogen gas bubbles bursting.

32. Human hair and fingernails continue to grow after death.

33. It takes about 20 seconds for a red blood cell to circle the whole body.

34. The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.

35. Most soccer players run 7 miles in a game.

36. The only part of the body that has no blood supply is the cornea in the eye. It takes in oxygen directly from the air. (Thus, we cover it up with a piece of flexible plastic so we can see better. I really hope my contacts do breathe as promised!)

37. Every day 400,000 babies are born, and 140,000 people die.

38. In most watch advertisements the time displayed on the watch is 10:10 because then the arms frame the brand of the watch (and make it look like it
is smiling).

39. Colgate faced big obstacle marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking countries. Colgate translates into the command “go hang yourself.” (Remind me not to brush my teeth in Mexico.)

40. The only 2 animals that can see behind itself without turning its head are the rabbit and the parrot.

41. Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair. (So redheads are more intelligent? I have to think this through.)

42. The average person laughs 13 times a day. (Wait, didn’t we establish that adults laugh at least 15 times a day? Was that previous figure including cyber laughing?)

43. Do you know the names of the three wise monkeys? They are:Mizaru(See no evil), Mikazaru(Hear no evil), and Mazaru(Speak no evil).

44. Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

45. German Shepherds bite humans more than any other breed of dog. (I deg to biffer. I should qualify that their biting is mostly in the line of duty. Pitbulls, however, just bite for fun. Big difference.)

46. Large kangaroos cover more than 30 feet with each jump.

47. Whip makes a cracking sound because its tip moves faster than the speed of sound. (This mostly applies to the bull whip. Just think, those Oregon pioneers were breaking the sound barrier long before we invented flight.)

48. Two animal rights protesters were protesting at the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn. Suddenly the pigs, all two thousand of them, escaped through a broken fence and stampeded, trampling the two hapless protesters to death. (…and their name was Legion. Wait, wrong story…)

49. If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural cause. (What does it mean if it’s just a statue of a horse? Do the same rules apply to how the horse died?)

50. The human heart creates enough pressure while pumping to squirt blood 30 feet!!

And because my mum raised me to have a song for every occasion, watch this:

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