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News flash: women like money, don’t hate their bodies enough

By Alice Bradley

Women’s Day magazine and AOL Body (is that a thing, AOL Body? A place people go?) conducted a poll, you guys! A poll! It was on the Inarnet, I think it’s called, and women were asked, would they rather have Jennifer Aniston’s body or a million dollars?
You. Are not. Going to believe. What most. Women. Wanted.
Wrong: the money.
CBS’s The Early Show, luckily for us, broke this story, wasting absolutely no one’s time with the shocking news that most women prefer the prospect of financial security over a tight bod.
Women would not really do anything for Jennifer Aniston’s body. Shocking! We say we’re superficial but when push comes to shove, we cave. More shocking still is that women chose the money over the body even though most women described themselves as less than happy with their own physical attributes. Specifically, 30 percent rated themselves “uncomfortable and ashamed.” (That’s a choice the poll gave. Ashamed. As you should be, if you don’t have Jennifer Aniston’s body or didn’t choose to receive it in some magical fairyland transaction.) 30 percent were ashamed, and yet only 22 percent of women wanted the body. Hmm. All 22 percent, we can only hope, were those ashamed women. And the other eight percent of The Ashamed suffered a blow to the head and forgot what they were supposed to answer.
According to The Early Show, some health care professionals are “concerned” about what this says about our priorities. And by “some” they mean the two health-care professionals willing to provide sound bites for the segment. “This survey maybe does suggest that women may be choosing health over wealth,” observes clinical psyhcologist [sic] Rene Zweig.” Actually if you watch the segment (as, sadly, I did), she actually says, “This survey maybe DOES suggest that women may be choosing health over wealth.” So I’m guessing the producer said to her, “Would you say that this survey suggests that women may be choosing health over wealth? And you say…?” while nodding at her. And the psychumoncology lady was all, “Uh, okay, I would say that! It maybe DOES suggest that, sure! Hey, when will this be on?”
I don’t mean to pick on this one person. Hey, some of us here have been put through the morning-show ringer, found ourselves spitting out exactly what the corporate machine wants us to say, woken up the next morning feeling sick and used. As for the other professional in this piece, dietitian Keri Glass, she tell us, “I think this survey absolutely points to the fact that our values are a little off.” I wonder if someone asked her, “Do you think this survey points to the fact that our values are a little off?” I suppose I’ll never know for sure. Except I do know, deep in my million-dollar-wanting heart.
I realize this isn’t the most important news item that’s come out this week, but this one stuck in my craw. It’s such a perfect, horrifying example of the worst sort of fake news. The fake morning news that’s designed to make women feel defensive and awful before they’ve even finished their breakfasts. (Hope that milk in your bran cereal is fat free, ladies!)
There’s not a single moment in the segment that isn’t insulting to women. The poll itself is insulting, assuming as it does that 1) all women consider Jennifer Aniston’s body to be the only one worth having; 2) women are comfortable enough financially that turning down a million dollars for a good body would be even a remote option, 3) the idea of having someone else’s body (as opposed to being given an improved version of one’s self, or perhaps being given the time and resources to get into shape) isn’t inherently creepy.
So, Woman’s Day and AOL Body, did you find out what the income level of your poll responders were? Whether they’re married? Have kids? How old they are? If so, CBS news took no note of it. Given no real information of any value, they chose to conclude from this worthless poll that women wanting money over tautness means they’re wrong. The message behind the poll is that having a perfect body is more important than anything else. More important than your future. Than your family’s well-being. Not a single word in this segment mentioned any of these possibilities. (Then there’s the obvious point that if you have a million dollars, I bet you could afford, you know, a gym membership.) Or that money represents power and freedom, and that women, it turns out, value those more than Anistonal (new word!) perfection. And thank God for that.
One wonders (or, okay, I wonder) if CBS wasn’t seriously annoyed that they couldn’t tell the world that ALL WOMEN WANT TO LOOK LIKE A MOVIE STAR, so they decided to teach us all a little lesson. At the end of the segment, CBS took to the street to ask women what they thought of the poll. I think it’s telling that they showed a young woman who concluded that women are “very materialistic.” I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe several woman told them just where they could shove their poll, but that wouldn’t have fit their message, would it?

Published January 25, 2008. Last updated May 10, 2010.
Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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