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9 ridiculous lies pop culture tells women

We’re under a constant barrage of lies and deceit.


Sundi Rose-Holt


Let’s face it: We’re all a bunch of suckers. We knowingly buy into a lot of cultural mythology that we really shouldn’t. Sure, we could take responsibility for our part in the elaborate ruse, but it’s a lot easier to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of popular culture. (Where it belongs, if you ask me.)

From television, film, and the Internet to books, podcasts, music, and more, we’re under a constant barrage of lies and deceit—especially women. We’re being told some pretty outlandish things by the artifacts of our popular culture, and yet we sip our tea and munch our popcorn, eating up every last lie.

Here is a list of the biggest, most insidious lies that pop culture tells women… and evidence that we are buying into them now more than ever.

1) A makeover will change your life.

How many times have we seen the mousy little nerd or the tragically awkward misfit be transformed into something glamorous and sexy enough to get the attention of her male crush? It happens so often, it’s become a pretty standard trope in TV and film. Apparently all it takes to achieve perfect happiness and contentment is a killer blowout and some clever contouring.



She’s All That:

And the makeover to end all makeovers, Pretty Woman:

2) Sex is so good all the time, every time.

Yeah, right. This might be the biggest lie of all. Perhaps we’re so apt to buy into this fantasy because it’s so far from the reality of the situation. It’s kind of a “through-the-looking-glass” fascination that, intellectually, we know is impossible, but it’s the improbality that draws us in.

Even though we don’t really see the actual sex happening in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, all the giggling and silliness is hard to buy, especially when nobody is exclaiming, “Ouch, you’re on my hair” or “Are we done?”

50 Shades of Grey is a pack of lies as well. All of it. Lies.

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3) Even in the post-apocalypse, women are able to keep their hygiene game on point.

Life without running water or electricity is a beauty burden, to say the least, but that’s not stopping women living in the end of times. If we are to believe what we see on the screen, it would appear that you just don’t really get all that dirty fighting for the continuation of civilization.

Sure, there’ll always be some smudges artfully swiped on cheeks and foreheads to indicate their road weariness, and their sweat reads more dewy than drenched, but the true story is a bit more harrowing.

Some of these ladies make the apocalypse look down right sexy.

Katniss Everdeen is among these ladies taking on the end of the world, and looking good doing it.

The ladies from The Walking Dead may not be quite as glamourous as Katniss, but I’ve never seen Maggie’s armpits look anything less than clean shaven. It’s a miracle.

4) Money isn’t necessary for an extremely glamourous life.

It’s a constant mystery how all the favorite leading ladies in pop culture can afford to live the life they lead. It seems like no matter their financial situation, they always have expensive clothes, pay their rent on time, and have plenty of money to eat out all the time.

Anybody remember when Rachel Green was a waitress on Friends?

Or when Carrie Bradshaw was a writer for newspaper and could afford dozens of pairs of Manolos?

5) A man isn’t really all that interesting unless he’s tortured, brooding, and dark.

In recent popular lore, somehow the character of the antihero has morphed into just the plain ol’ hero, so if a male character isn’t dark and twisty or doesn’t have a dodgy past, he’s just not as sexy. It’s just an added bonus to attractiveness if he’s recovering from sort of addiction, childhood trauma, or psychological abuse, apparently.

Buffy would have never looked twice at Angel if he were any less dangerous or complicated.

Ray Donovan has demons coming out his ears, and we love him for it.

Walter White IS the danger who knocks.

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6) Smart girls are asexual.

The quickest way to identify a woman who is the least sexual in a movie or show is to look for the glasses. Along with those glasses, she’s probably brainy and clever and has a lot to say about a lot of things, but she’s not usually the girl the guys lust over.

Liz Lemon was desexualized in about a million ways—the least of which being her love for hoagies.

7) Being a housewife makes you desperate and vapid.

See any Bravo show ever.

8) The size of your boobs is directly proportional to your libido and the decibel of your voice.

Big-busted women in pop culture are uniformly over-sexed. Just like you can spot the asexual woman by her glasses, you can spot the sex-obsessed one by her rack.

Both Max and Sophie on 2 Broke Girls are examples of this.

And you must include Gloria from Modern Family in this lie as well.

9) Women can’t really have it together both professionally and personally.

The idea of “having it all” is so antiquated that it feels gross to see it in print. But pop culture doesn’t mind reiterating that women can’t possibly have every facet of their lives in working order. If they are rockstars at work, then their personal life must be falling apart, or vice versa.

Take a look at Rebecca from My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She was a very successful attorney at high-profile law firm in New York City, but she cried all the time because she wanted a boyfriend. Sigh.

Mindy Lahiri swings wildly from badass gynecologist to completely absentee employee as her love and family life wax and wane.

Looking for alternatives to the bleak mainstream? Check out these excellent feminist webseries and YouTube creators instead.

Photo via Kevin N. Murphy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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