What do you stand for—style or substance?

A beautiful young woman described by the Dallas Morning News as “a sex-tape survivor turned reality star” visited Dallas to promote a “$29 goo that makes your kisser look bigger” at a major department store.

According to the newspaper (Dallas Morning News, February 24, 2011), when she was asked about what she stands for, this young woman replied:

“My sisters and I are a brand for our fans. I love to work out and stay active. I would say that’s a few (things I stand for).”

We’re not going to use this woman’s name because we don’t watch reality TV shows, and we don’t keep up with everyone in the world of popular culture. We don’t know for sure if this woman stays active by doing community service or if she was misquoted by the newspaper.

However, Joy has been reading the new book Cinderella Ate My Daughter—Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein. And, the night before she read the newspaper article, she read about the difference between the New Year’s resolutions of girls at the end of the 19th century and those at the end of the 20th century.

The young woman of yore

One 19th century girl, Orenstein says, wrote: “Resolved: to think before speaking. To work seriously. To be self-restrained in conversations and actions. Not to let my thoughts wander. To be dignified. Interest myself more in others.”

A contemporary young woman

A girl who lives in today’s Facebook/reality-show world, Orenstein says, wrote:  “I will try to make myself better in any way I possibly can….I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got a new haircut, good makeup, new clothes and accessories.”

The difference is “a matter of deeds over dress,” Orenstein concludes. The 19th century girl’s “femininity was not defined by the pursuit of physical perfection; it was about character.”

We’ll write more about Orenstein’s very interesting book in a later blog post. For now, we’re remembering that we made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and exercise more—common goals in our look-young, beauty-obsessed culture. Do we need to be more concerned about improving our character than we are about improving our looks? We want to be sure we stand for substance.

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