Actress Camille Cooper described barriers women face to students in the Marvin Center Tuesday night as part of Women’s History Month.
“When a woman becomes a scholar there is usually something wrong with her sexual organs,” said Cooper, quoting philosopher Friedrich Nietsche. Her lecture, titled “What’s the Price of Beauty,” highlighted double-standards women face on a daily basis.
Rules discriminating against women still exist today, Cooper said, such as a rules at one North Carolina university that quietly expels pregnant women while allowing the father of the child to finish the term. From a young age women are taught the only thing of value to them is their sex or femininity, Cooper said.
Now a mother, Cooper said she has researched the roots of the word femininity, which means fair or weaker sex. Fair means beautiful – the opposite being ugly – and weaker means unstable, insecure and unable to accomplish anything, she said.
Cooper let her audience in on a few secrets, including Victoria’s Secret.
“Oh, she has a secret alright,” Cooper said. “Victoria has no nipples, Victoria has no hair, Victoria has no pores, Victoria is a mutant freak.”
Cooper said every actress and model older than 14 is airbrushed in pictures.
“Models and actresses just don’t look like that,” she said. “Inches are shaved off hips, stockings are used in front of the camera for cellulite and lines and blemishes are removed from the face after the photograph or scene is shot.”
Cooper said she believes people are born innocent and society impacts their decisions and beliefs. At early ages, when a boy pulls a girl’s ponytail he is not reprimanded because he likes her. But, she said, if the girl pulled the boy’s hair, she has a “behavior problem.”
Cooper said women are not alone in the double-standard. While it is normal to judge a woman’s worth by her beauty, a man’s worth is judged by his financial ability. Most men and women are insecure because they cannot meet the impossible perfection that models capture in their photographs.
“The best life is the life we’re living right now,” she said.
While a first glance at the problem implicates the media, a second look reveals the problem is with society, she said
Five percent of the world’s population actually resembles what actresses and models look like. The majority of people are unhappy with the way they look, she said.
Cooper said humans have a habitual mind – one of the reasons why advertisers value “effective frequency,” which means an audience sees an ad three times over a set of commercial breaks. Studies show that consumers are more likely to buy a product they are accustomed to, having seen it often on TV, she said.
“We like repetitiveness, so we need to retrain our brains,” she said.
Cooper suggested that students train their brains with good thoughts, even if they do not believe them. Students should write something good about themselves when they wake up every morning, Cooper said.
“Soon, whether you believed it before or not, you will believe it,” she said. “It will become habit and it will ripple into social circles, schools and environments at large. That’s when things change.”