Women Are Portrayed Unfairly In Media
Kristen L. Garcia
Houston Community College
It is no secret that women have always been seen differently and often unfairly in comparison to men. Whether it be politics, jobs or at the home front, a woman’s role is often downplayed and what ends up taking over her less than appreciated knowledge over any subject is what she often has to offer in appearance. The media is no exception and has been to blame for how it portrays women and has done so for many years.
Images of female bodies are everywhere. What’s the saying, sex sells? Women and their body parts sell everything from food to cars. Popular film and television actresses are becoming younger, taller, and thinner. Society has become obsessed with what has become acceptable and appropriate and even sexy for a woman to look like. Much of this is to blame on the media no doubt. Not just television, but billboards and magazines have also fed into this desire for the perfect female image. Women’s magazines are full of articles urging that if they can just lose those last twenty pounds, they can have it all-the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career. This kind of reverse psychology has often pushed women to go to the extremes to gain that social acceptance and desire for fairy-tale lifestyle.
Why are standards of beauty being imposed on women, the majority of whom are naturally larger and more mature than any model put on display. By representing an ideal difficult to maintain has made the cosmetics, diet, and fashion industry businesses soar with profit. It’s also no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with being thin, as an essential criteria of beauty. Age has also been an issue to be dealt with in the media. The stakes are huge. On one hand, women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet aids. On the other hand, research shows that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls of all ages.
Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that media images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women. For example, research has found from a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition. Still, the number of real life women and girls who seek a similar framed body is epidemic and they can suffer equally devastating health consequences. Television and movies reinforce the importance of a thin body as a measure of a woman’s worth. Heavier actresses tend to receive negative comments from male characters about their bodies. Although some efforts have been made in the magazine industry to slow the trend, advertising rules the marketplace and in advertising thin is “in.”
The messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells ordinary women that they are always in need of adjustment and that the female body is an object to be perfected. The overwhelming presence of media images of painfully thin women means that real women’s bodies have become invisible in the mass media. The saddest part of it all is that many women internalize these stereotypes and judge themselves by the beauty industry’s standards. This focus on beauty and desirability is unhealthy and it destroys any chance that a woman might have to change the environment around her.
Women Are Portrayed Unfairly In Media