Berger Tompkins And Rich

1088 WORDS

Berger Tompkins And Rich

Language and images are usually a way to express what someone is thinking,
however, language and images can often restrict our thinking in various ways.

Susan Douglas, in her essay ,"Narcissism As Liberation", writes about
"the great myth...that superficial appearances can be equated with a
person's deepest character strengths and weaknesses"(128). The image of
what a "beautiful" and what is not is an image that is constantly
restricted in our minds. These restrictions come from television, movies, or
many other things that people encounter. John Berger in "Ways of

Seeing", proclaims that "men survey woman before treating them.

Consequently how a woman appears to a man can determine how she will be
treated"(46). This further shows what these restrictions do in our everyday
lives. Adrienne Rich in her essay "When We Awaken: Writing As

Re-Vision" gives her theories on how to free people from these restrictions
mainly through "re-vision". One image that is restricted in our minds
is the concept of beauty, that is seen in advertising. These restriction are put
on women. The image of what beauty is, in regard to women, is perpetuated though
advertising. Through the advertising and on a larger scale the media, women are
told about "perfect faces and bodies, and the psychologically ,
politically, and economically punitive measures taken against women who fail to
be young, thin, and beautiful"(133). They are made to feel inferior if they
are not considered attractive, so they feel the need to purchase what is being
advertised. Berger agrees that women are often victims of these restriction when
he says, "a women's manifest in her gestures, voice, opinion,
expressions, clothes"(46). He believes that women are judged because of
this image. This image that today is put on the public by ads that we are
subject to wherever we are. It is extremely difficult to break free from our
limited thoughts. Adrienne Rich also sees these restriction in another form
,writing. She says that when men wrote about women and that most of them were
about beautiful women "threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of
youth-the fate worse than death"(553). This writing is similar to the
advertising that Douglas talks about. Similar in that not being what is deemed
beautiful is a horrible thing to be avoided at all costs. Rich also sees the
paradox of what images and language do to our minds, "language has trapped
as well as liberated us"(551). However, Rich gives a way to possibly break
free from these restrictions. This idea that can liberate us is a process called
"re-vision". This concept is described as "the act of looking
back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical
direction"(550). Rich believes that this process is essential for women to
further become an emancipated people. She says re-vision "is for women more
than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival"(550). Rich
plans a way for women to break free from restriction put upon them. This process
could work for the restricted image of beauty that Berger and Douglas
articulate. First, she says that "until we can understand the assumptions
in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves"(550).So women must come
to recognize what advertising is doing to them. They must see through the
"I'm worth it" and "'You've come a long way, baby'" slogans
that they are "drenched" with all of the time. Douglas believes that
marketers "set up standards of perfection that were cast as unattainable
yet somehow within reach if only the right product were
purchased"(127).Rich also relates this loss of beauty when she says that
men wrote about women and that most of them were about beautiful women
"threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of youth-the fate worse than
death"(553).These advertisers already know that the method of making women
feel inferior is a formula that works. If all women can posses this knowledge,
then they can avoid the feelings that are a product of this kind of advertising.

Thus they will not purchase the products, then these marketing campaigns will
probably veer of in different directions, leading to the end of these type of
advertisements. This could be the first step of re-vision to avoid and liberate
our minds from the restrictions they already have. Another way that women are
restricted by this image of beauty, is their yearning to pretty because they
want be treated as well as men are in our society. Berger says that women are
judged by their appearances. He says that

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