I am lots of things in this world, and one of the roles I live out is being a university instructor. I teach classes in communication. This semester I am teaching a course in Interpersonal Communication, and am finding all sorts of interesting topics to consider.
In class today we discussed the idea of the “generalized other” and how this nameless, faceless “other” affects how we perceive ourselves and how we communicate. This “generalized other” could be the media, advertising, comments we’ve heard repeatedly from multiple people, or just general impressions of what “the man” thinks about things. I’m joking about “the man” part (kinda).
Exploring the “generalized other” concept led me to thinking about my own personal experiences with this entity, particularly on the topic of body image. Like many women in the world today (or all women?) I struggle with my perceptions of what the “generalized other” might think of my body. I try to win these battles, but we all have low self-confidence days, right? I was then reminded me of an article I recently read in Glamour magazine about weightism and weight stereotyping:
This article outlines how women stereotype one another when it comes to their appearance. I think the “generalized other” is alive and well in this report. Women have learned from one another to assign these stereotypes (positive and negative) based on their looks, and it’s sad.
I also got to thinking about what is considered beautiful in general. There’s so much to say on this topic, but I thought I’d share this TED Talk that I came across. Rick Guidotti is a photographer who has captured beauty among some often stigmatized populations. I like his talk a lot, and how he is portraying beauty in the world. I thought I’d share a link to his talk, as well: