The SPARK Summit: Eye-Opener

Before I attended the SPARK Summit, I imagined myself “guiding” others at the Summit, struggling to find the words for an answer for them, because I was part of the SPARK team. I imagined embarrassing myself in front of prestigious journalists, hardly able to answer a question. But what I found at the actual summit was nothing that I had imagined. It was more laid back, not intimidating at all and incredibly interesting.

I was so pleased to find that I was attending something that would teach me and keep me informed about the sexualization of girls in the media. Although my feminism classmates and I have been learning about feminist theories, causes, and personal stories for the past two months, the difference between an academic class and a conference is staggering. I feel the feminist class  prepared me to observe presenters help them in the cause they are fighting for.

I must note the session titled “Hard Core Media Literacy with About-Face.” Her take on the issue of the sexualization of girls in the media was both hilarious and so mind-bogglingly correct. I could not believe that I hadn’t seen what was wrong with many ads before. Living in 21st century New York, I see the worst of them everyday. But growing up in the 21st century in New York has made me so blind, that I think eating disorders, self-hatred and self-mutilation is normal (not myself, ahem).

Take for example, models. Most models (I can guess) suffer from anorexia or bulimia (or both), have countless plastic surgeries (which I consider body mutilation), which are both informed by being fed by the self-hatred they hold against themselves. Yet, with all these hideous sides of the models, so many of us look at their “perfect,” stick-thin bodies, and want to be them. This particular session has definitely changed my views on beauty and has allowed me to see what girls’ sexuality has become. Finally, after living in this box that we call “normal” all my life, this SPARK Summit has allowed me to look outside the box, and truly evaluate the world we live in and why we have to change it.

The SPARK Summit was something that has made more sense to me than anything else in a long time. I truly feel that if this becomes a regular occurrence, they can spread the truth, and perhaps fix this ongoing issue that women have been facing.

4 thoughts on “The SPARK Summit: Eye-Opener

  1. I really enjoyed this post Olivia. I found the statement, “growing up in the 21st century in New York has made me blind” fascinating. I always thought of New York as an eye-opening place, but I can completely understand what you mean. New York, as one of the “fashion capitals” of the world, certainly sales us the image of the “flawless” models.
    This blog post also makes me think of something I told one of my guy friends. After rejecting his compliments, he pursued to ask me why I am so self-conscious. I simply answered “all girls are”. I said it as though it was an inevitable, uncontrollable fact. But why do so many girls suffer from self-hatred? What does this reveal about our society and the image of girls in the media?

  2. One statement that immediately jumped out to me was: “But growing up in the 21st century in New York has made me so blind, that I think eating disorders, self-hatred and self-mutilation is normal among others.” As soon as I read this, I thought “YES!” Not yes as in yes, I appreciate this about our society but yes as in yes, I too thought this to be normal, typical of teenage girls and women; but it’s not! Or at least it’s not naturally. The media has created so many issues surrounding body image and sexuality in women and girls that circumstances such as plastic surgery procedures and eating disorders have rampaged our society. Likewise, they have essentially become a part of our culture which is really not something we should be nonchalant about or accepting of.

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