Why Does the L Train Hate My Body? // Maria Pietruszka
With over a million people using the subway system daily, the stations and subway cars become a public space for the homeless, the talented street performers, the blue collared folks, the students and everyone in between. On long commutes, it is impossible not to take notice of the posters in the subway cars as well as in the stations. Colleges being advertised with slogans like “Start Here Go Anywhere” seen on a Borough of Manhattan Community College poster, sending a positive message for those wanting to pursue a college education; Seamless ads promoting fast delivery time when one wants to take a load off and not cook. My least favorite that became the inspiration for this blog, were the posters advertising plastic surgery for women. Apparently, living with small breasts is miserable and it’s the year of the “Brazilian butts”? While all other posters are marketing positive, convenient ways to maneuver through life, the other advertisements are promoting the harsh reality for women in society.
It makes me question what is this constant need for society to control what women look like and worst of all, to control how women feel about their bodies? From million dollar make-up commercials to plus size models being banned from runways, I felt like these advertisements on the subway are now pushing the boundaries between telling women what they should or shouldn't look like to now attempting to convince women to spend thousands of dollars on actually modifying their bodies.
I was pleased to find out that I was not the only one who felt targeted and disgusted by these ads. I came across one of the ads that had a sticker that read, “THIS OPPRESSES WOMEN”. I noticed these stickers a few more times as I took the train. It restored my faith in humanity seeing this. I was hoping it sent the message that women did not deserve to be scrutinized for not looking a certain way. Are bigger breasts or butts or face lifts really the answer to our happiness? Instead of promoting plastic surgery and large breasts, why can’t we promote self-love and stop contributing to misogyny disguised as an attempt to make women feel better about themselves?
Unfortunately, one afternoon commute home, I noticed that someone had different ideas about this. Written over the sticker in black marker were degrading words implying that woman are sexual objects and nothing more. These words made me as if the struggle of being a woman in society is still taken as a joke. Needless to say this was hurtful to see and left me feeling shocked and confused.
Maybe I am biased but more people should be bothered by this. The affects of low self-esteem can be detrimental to women. How can women succeed if they are under a microscope, constantly criticized and made to believe that they are never good enough? Our accomplishments do not matter but what we look like defines us. I wish we lived in a time and place where we can take a train ride without feeling bad about our breast size.
Written by: Maria Pietruszka