Earlier today, around the time that I realized I needed to write a column for this week, I stumbled upon a column titled “It’s time to see through Miami’s typical body image,” that was published a few days back. As the title suggests, this article is a critique of Miami’s social culture–more specifically, the social culture that Miami’s female student population partakes in.

The critiques that this article makes are neither new nor unfounded, though the way the author assigns blame to Miami, by suggesting there is a “Miami mold,” is something I can’t help but disagree with. To suggest there is a “Miami mold” to blame for negative or harmful stereotypes and expectations that exist within our social culture is to also suggest that these issues do not exist elsewhere–a claim that is, of course, false.

Ridiculous and harmful expectations for all women exist universally; whether or not they are set by men or other women or by ourselves (or by anyone else for that matter), to sum up these issues as being the fault of any single school or institution does nothing more than ignore the much deeper societal and cultural issue where these expectations and stereotypes are founded.

If you buy a house and the inspection finds that your home’s foundation is shot, along with a handful of other more minor issues (i.e. popcorn ceilings, ugly kitchen, etc.), your contractor will tell you that fixing the structural issues need to be priority number one. The problem is after buying the home you only have enough money to fix one set of issues: the one major issue or the few minor issues.

After your contractor tells you that your house will likely not cave in in the immediate future, you decide to splurge on a new kitchen and new ceilings. Your house stays standing, so you decide to upgrade your bathrooms a few months later. A few months after that, you get a new roof. You continue to ignore the major, structural problem for so long that you’re shocked when your neighbor calls you to deliver the news that half your house has caved in.

Blaming the “Miami mold” for the harmful effects of expectations of women and women’s bodies is the same thing as buying granite countertops because your house isn’t going to cave in tomorrow; even if we fix the “Miami mold” problem, the root of the problem exists still.

berndtcn@miamioh.edu

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