We must move beyond calling the act of robbing a store or taking someone’s money “violent.” We must also use this term to refer to Penn’s role in the gentrification of West Philadelphia through the expansion of our university, which forces families out of their homes and perpetuates intergenerational poverty. Poverty combines with systematic racism, leading people to commit these crimes of survival.
But even without Photoshop, the same ideals continue to inform their image selection. America consistently sees beauty through a lens that has nothing to do with cameras — one that excludes people of varying classes, genders, sexualities and races. Models’ dropping BMIs are indications of a much larger societal desire to confine beauty. Photography and other forms of media cannot spontaneously create cultural views; they are shaped by context and represent the society that they are created in.
Non-monosexual people often face a similar issue of erasure. “Pansexuality doesn’t exist.” “It’s just a way to get attention.” “It is a stepping stone to ‘truly’ coming out.” These remarks, all of which I’ve heard, are ways of discrediting someone else’s sexual orientation, and their romantic and sexual attractions and experiences. Non-monosexual women are told we are catering to the male gaze, and non-monosexual men are told that they are “actually” gay and just haven’t fully come out yet. Both stereotypes are false and harmful.