Rashida Jones did a new interview with Time magazine to promote Cuban Fury, which is a feel-good romcom (about guys and girls who just happen to dance) in limited release. Rashida’s also been in the news a lot for her outspoken manner of discussing young female celebrities. She started out by abrasively telling young starlets to “stop acting like wh-res.” Rashida has since eased up a bit and realized that she’ll convince no one by calling them names. She’s refined her message by telling girls not to invest in their looks.
Now Rashida is crusading against the sexy selfie. She lives her message too. Rashida poses the occasional selfie on Twitter (she has no Instagram account), but she’s never sexing it up. No strategically placed cleavage or gaping mouth in an attempt to look alluring for fans. Rashida talked about her motivation in speaking out to young girls. She has a sister who’s only 21 years old. Ahhh, now I understand. That’s a prime selfie-taking age. Thank goodness the internet wasn’t popular when I was 21. Here are some excerpts:
What’s up with her #elegantselfie Twitter tag? “It was kind of a joke that came out of a panel I did for Women in the World where we were talking about the hypersexualization of pop culture and girls. People were sharing that their teenage daughters, every picture they take is like this sultry, mouth-open picture – and we were exploring the idea of an ‘elegant selfie,” where it’s not sexual as a top-note, where it’s got other flavors to it, you know? You could smile!”
Why does she care so much about oversexualization? “I think it’s a generational thing. I think the impetus for me was I have a 21-year-old sister – and she’s a really good girl, she’s a smart, beautiful, soulful, funny girl – and I think just seeing it through the eyes of somebody I love who’s younger than me. There is this kind of blanket pressure to be a certain way, to be sexy in a certain way, to get the attention of men and also other women. I think I didn’t have that. I think about my teenage self and I was pretty awkward and a little overweight and definitely not sexy, and definitely never even attempted to be sexy. Thank God! Because if I had had that pressure I’m not sure I would have been as proficient with computers or read as much or gotten to know myself or developed a sense of humor. I don’t know if I would have done that, because there’s actually a correlation between spending time worrying about what you look like and how you could be appealing to guys and not developing other parts of yourself. I just think about it through my own personal experience and want better for younger girls.”
Where is the pressure coming from? “It’s the evolution, devolution, whatever, of American culture. There’s just more access and there’s more info. I think the biggest factor there is pr0n. Pr0n is so easily accessible to everybody. One of the psychologists I was on the panel with was saying she had a friend who was trying to do a study about young boys and the effect of pr0n on young boys, but they couldn’t find enough young men who hadn’t watched pr0n for the sample group. It’s totally rampant. Pr0n is fine for adults as entertainment, but your brain is still forming until you’re 26. Your ideas of love and romance and sex are being formed by the things that you watch at a super young age. We had girlie magazines and stuff like that, where you had to fill in the gaps, you had to use your imagination to make things sexy. There’s just nothing left to the imagination now, across the board.”
Maybe the internet will improve? “The internet is obviously a thriving thing. It just started; it’s the Wild West; it’s not self-regulating; it’s not regulated from the outside. Maybe at some point it will self-correct. It’s unfortunate, but maybe at some point there will be enough damage where we’ll realize, you know what, that’s actually not something I’m interested in – in the way that now people are starting to do digital cleanses. I’m very cautiously optimistic. I don’t think it’s happening any time soon.”
At least Rashida is realistic in her conclusion. Nothing will change anytime soon. Girls will still make duckfaces into the camera and post it all to social media. Parents can and should monitor, but there’s nothing to stop young adults from posting images on the internet that they will one day regret.
Rashida’s thoughts on pr0n are interesting. She’s correct in that many of us grew up on YM and Teen magazine. Those mags had articles on how to kiss but never went into detail. Yet pr0n has always existed in some shape or form. Many of us can probably recall seeing a Playboy at home or at a friend’s house, right? The thought of my daugther stumbling onto pr0n on the internet is terrible. Parental controls can’t obliterate everything, especially not creeps like James Franco. *shudder*
Photos courtesy of WENN