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Do we deserve to "see ourselves" reflected in media?
Is validation an inalienable right we all have?
Someone shared this picture of a Facebook ad from Molke in Discord:
The word “deserve” means “to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have.” Do you deserve to see people who look like you in advertisements? Have you done something worthy of being granted that? Or do you have a quality that someone or something else does not have that makes you deserving?
No. Being represented in an ad is not something deserved. It might be nice, especially if you actually want to see if it will fit your body well. You might choose to go with a different company if you can’t see if something will fit you and another company lets you see that. But it’s not something you have a right to demand from them. It’s not something that you deserve just for being you.
Why the push for validation these days?
Stefany Guido, a middle school librarian, tried to defend a pro-prostitution book being in the library by saying children who are in “sex work” would feel validated if they could read the book. She says that's why it should be in the schools. The quote below comes from this article.
The content of the book was enough to shock the teacher. But what alarmed her more was Guido's assertion the book should remain in the school library because it could be useful to students. As sex workers, Guido postured, the book would help them feel validated and less alienated.
"She started talking about how there’s kids who come to the library who do sex work, and this makes them feel validated," the teacher told police. "As a teacher, if you get an individual student coming to you because you’re abused, you have to go to the police immediately."
Guido further defended her position, saying the book doesn't contain pornographic materials, and as such, was fine to be read by children.
It's clear that any child actually in the act of prostitution is being abused and this is illegal in more ways than consenting adults (which is still illegal in most places). Child abuse shouldn't be normalized, which it almost seems like she was trying to do, perhaps, unintentionally.
But that's not my focus here. Instead, I wanted to focus on Stefany's desire for children to feel “validated and less alienated” by a book.
It could have been anything. A lot of people today are wanting others to feel “validated” as if that is a good thing. Validation is usually defined as something like, “To make something officially acceptable or approved,” or “To illustrate the worthiness of something.”
Before I go on, consider these questions, "Where do you find your worth?" and, "Are you looking for acceptance from others?"
Are there really “sex workers” going to middle school looking for some acceptance, validation, and love in books? Is that what books are for? To accept you? To validate you? To make you feel worthy of love?
No one should need to find books to validate them.
We shouldn't need our society to validate us. Looking for external validation is a symptom of a problem, it's not the solution.
The reason why there is a push for external validation is that children didn't grow up in healthy homes. In a healthy home, a child will experience mirroring which leads to feeling validated.
From Wikipedia's article on mirroring: "In infant-parent interactions, mirroring consists of the parent imitating the infant's expressions while vocalizing the emotion implied by the expression. This imitation helps the infant to associate the emotion with their expression, as well as feel validated in their own emotions as the parent shows approval through imitation. Studies have demonstrated that mirroring is an important part of child and infant development. According to Kohut's theories of self-psychology, individuals need a sense of validation and belonging in order to establish their concepts of self.
When parents mirror their infants, the action may help the child develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-control, as they can see their emotions within their parent's faces...The process of mirroring may help infants establish connections of expressions to emotions and thus promote social communication later in life. Infants also learn to feel secure and valid in their own emotions through mirroring, as the parent's imitation of their emotions may help the child recognize their own thoughts and feelings more readily."
When you have a proper relationship with your parents you learn internal validation. But when you do not have a parent around, or you have some other unconventional home life, you may miss out on this validation and seek it elsewhere.
Many parents today are still working through their own emotional trauma from their childhoods and when they have a baby they may project their own issues onto the child, like an overlay. Those parents will not be able to accurately mirror what the child is feeling or experiencing, because they're not actually seeing the authentic child. They’re simply seeing their projections and this “overlay.”
When children don't feel like their authentic self is “seen” they grow up and have to do the work to love, find their worth, and value themselves. It shouldn't be the environment's job to “validate” you. If you have made the environment responsible for validating you, then you're a slave to whether or not your environment does. The children who didn’t feel loved when growing up and don’t find internal validation often become the narcissists of tomorrow.
Do you know who wanted to “see himself” everywhere he looked? Narcissus.
From Wikipedia: “Narcissus, according to the poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses, is a handsome youth who falls in love with his own reflection. Unable to tear himself away, he dies of his passion, and even as he crosses the Styx continues to gaze at his reflection (Metamorphoses 3:339–510).”
Needing Pronoun Validation
There are “gender non-conforming” teachers who don't feel comfortable with themselves and they look to their students to validate them by making their students call them different pronouns than their sex requires.
If the student didn't call them the “correct gender” then the teacher gets upset. WHY? Because the teacher decided it was the student's job to validate them, rather than do the work to love, accept and validate themselves.
If the teacher was comfortable with themselves they wouldn't need validation from their students. It wouldn't matter if someone misgendered them.
It doesn't matter when people misgender me. I'm female and have a very female-sounding name, but for some reason, people do misgender me online. But I know what sex I am and won't throw a fit if someone misgenders me. I know their perception is not reality, because I'm clear in my own mind what sex I am. I don't need their validation as I have a clear sense of self in this regard.
People need to find that self-acceptance and self-worth, so they don't go looking for it from others. That never works out. It's not good for others or themselves.
It's not good to look for validation from other people (or books, or movies, etc), because if you don't “see yourself” in those places, then you just upset yourself. And it's not good to put that responsibility onto other people because you're trying to make them a slave to your whims.
The best thing is for everyone to take personal responsibility and focus on loving and accepting themselves and not minding what other people do or don't do.
Have you seen more examples where people are trying to help others “feel validated?”
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