The other day I read this article on Yahoo! about a new show in Afghanistan: Afghanistan's Next Top Model. At first, I thought that this was a great chance for oppressed women to step out into the public eye and express themselves. For so long, Afghan women were kept hidden behind their burqas and now they would have a chance to be seen. This was a great way for them to be empowered and feel good about themselves and their femininity.
Then I got to this sentence:
But asked if he looked more at the clothes or the girls, he replied with a smile: "The girls of course."
Oh, hell no! This woke me up to another side to this. America's Next Top Model is not about empowering women; it's about objectifying them! So why should Afghanistan's Next Top Model be any different? These women grew up in a society that told them they don't matter, and now they're being told that they can matter only if they are beautiful on the outside. What about the inside? Why not have a show like ABC's The Scholar where the smartest girls win scholarships? Or a Hannah Montana or Lizzie McGuire type sitcom with a strong young female lead? Now I understand that Afghanistan is new at this whole TV thing and this is a big step on it's own, but I think they should consider preventing the creation of a superficial, beauty-obsessed culture that makes girls feel bad about themselves on a daily basis like we unfortunately have in the US.
Don't believe me? Just watch this video: