Thursday, March 29, 2007


This collage is based on the reading "Growing up Hidden" by Linnea Due, one woman's story of her attempt to hide her homosexuality by acting like a "normal," meaning heterosexual, girl. "I dropped out of the athletics I loved, wore nylons and makeup, carried my books in front of me, shortened my stride. I developed an imperious persona to go along with my new look and pretended an interest in boys," Linnea wrote (Linnea 154). Shows like America's Next Top Model propagate these stereotypes of femininity and hetero-normativity, making young girls believe that a "real" woman should be statuesque, thin, have flowing hair, wear flawless makeup, and of course, straight. Every season, there is a sexy photo shoot involving the models posing provocatively with men, as the above photos demonstrate. In season two, there was a photo shoot involving the girls to pose in nude pairs, but the lesbian dimensions were barely explored and only mentioned in regards to male titillation.
There have been lesbian contestants, like Ebony from season 1, Kim from season 5, who is shown above kissing another contestant, and Michelle, from season 4, among others. While they offer valuable exposure and contrast to more mainstream notions of femininity and sexuality, their sexual orientation is often exploited for dramatic purposes, or they are divided into stereotypical lesbian molds, which the pop art in the collage skewers. These contestants are told they are too masculine and need to work on being "girly." They fit neatly into stereotypes like the lesbian basketball player or the tomboy, and one is even an amateur wrestler, a career for which she is mocked, due to its masculine overtones. Girls like Linnea, who feel the need to keep their sexuality secret, are presented with conflicting views from ANTM. On one hand, the show does give valuable face time to lesbians, a group marginalized by the media. On the other, the show promotes societal ideals of heterosexuality and too often relies in well-worn sexual stereotypes.

1 comment:

Jessie said...

Awesome job Erin! I can't even begin to tell you how many people have been amazed by your collage and its dead-on (no pun from the last week's show intended) critique of ANTM and its use of the Due piece.

It's really quite good and your blog is so thematically unified it's really becoming a cohesive and exemplary body of work.

Keep it up! :o)

(BTW...even for names that may be of the pen-name ilk, still use the last name "Due" as opposed to citations including "Linnea")