Like many others, my idea of gender has changed drastically since childhood, and even more so since my early twenties. It was not so long ago that without being aware, I was following in line with the social constructs that I have unknowingly been subject to, since day one. Through discussion, reading, and gender studies classes, I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that gender is a learned idea and the constraints on us all, as a result of this truth.
My earliest memory of noticing these social constructs must be from when I was roughly eight years old. I was dressing up my younger brothers (per their requests) in my outfits and putting clips in their hair. When my Mother saw what we were doing, I thought smoke might actually begin blowing from her ears. I will never forget my confusion when she said “You can’t put them in dresses. They’re boys! You’ll confuse them!” Even at that young age, I understood that there were simply ideas about gender that I did not agree with.
If a boy wanted to wear a dress, why couldn’t he?
As age and life experience has brought about a certain level of awareness of the fact that we do gender, what has remained in the background (or at least my background) is the way in which these ideas are not only introduced but also reinforced in our modern day, North American society.
Two words: Popular Culture
Lets take apart this ad for a moment. While on a surface level, this ad may be marketing Special K cereal, it’s strengthening a much larger idea than breakfast. It’s utilizing the already present ideals set in place for women and what it means to be a woman and associating them with the cereal. Eating this cereal will work alongside your beauty routine, eating this cereal will give you the same hour glass shape the bowls image and reflection creates on the model, and above all, eating this cereal will make you FABULOUS. #cantpinchaninch