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90210 and women’s bodies

August 26th, 2008     by Nicole Cohen     Comments

Ads plastered in subway stations and a provocative television preview (above) have alerted me to the fact that a new version of Beverly Hills 90210 is about to air. While the original show, which ran for 10 years in the 1990s, had a massive impact on television and teen culture—see, for example, the slew of academic discussion analyzing the show—I’m guessing 90210’s revival has a lot more to do with the success of recent teen drama hits The O.C. and Gossip Girl.

Which means, as the trailer for the new show suggests, that the new version of 90210 will have to be way more sexy than the original to keep up with our current lust for consumerist, celebrity-crazed, sex-saturated culture.

Shayla Thiel-Stern has an interesting article up at FlowTV, a site that takes a critical look at television. She argues that comparing the bodies of the women in the first 90210 to the bodies of the woman in the show’s current incarnation reveals a great deal about shifting cultural ideas about adolescent female bodies.

As she writes,

“…the women from both shows demonstrate how in a very short but increasingly mediated point in history, women’s and girls’ bodies are shaped and inscribed by the culture surrounding them. Through pilates, cosmetic surgery, low-carb diets, hair straightening, skin lightening, Botox, and so many other means, women have mirrored media representations of “perfect” women and shaped their bodies to fit the representation. While Photoshop almost certainly plays a role in the perfection process of promotional photos, however, it does not stop women and girls in reality from attempting to alter their bodies and faces to conform to this fantasy portrayal. The old and new versions of 90210 exemplify this idea perfectly.”

Here’s the rest of the article.

Tags: media savvy

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