The issue of Women portrayal by the media has resulted to a lot of criticism in the society. In most women, the media tend to have a large effect on how they view their bodies. This is observed from the advertisements that tend to depict thin women. The media are developing a trademark of how women should feel and look. Statistics indicates that women who are portrayed in the advertisement are not vindictive of the women in today’s society (Holmstrom 2004). The media tend to be playing a tremendous role in how women perceive their identity. With the impact it has, the media tend to have the power of building a woman up or even breaking her down. In this paper, we assess how the media has reinforced gender stereotypes on women and how women are represented in the media.
The impact of media on women
The way an individual presents herself or himself in the society tend to have a great impact on his or her career. Image is normally of great importance because it is through our perception that we can build up our impression on people and judge, categorize, and group people. When watching television, reading newspapers, magazines, and even surfing the internet, the one thing that we normally see is airbrushed images of very perfect bodies of women. The media tend to be dictating how the ideal woman should look. This is seen through the digitally enhanced woman who is exceedingly thin; thus, they mold the image of an ideal woman. Therefore, the average women who do not fit in this mold are likely to have pressure of adjusting their appearance.
The blatant control of women by the media is seen to be internalized by the society and may proceed to further generations. The images of women tend to be everywhere, whereby, women and their body parts are selling everything from cars to food. This is an issue that has been absorbed in the society because people have received a message that beauty is now the norm. Park (2005) argues that, today, the female body is being used for control, transformation, and profit through the media’s pressure on women to reshape their bodies. The researcher argues that women have issues sexually because of how they have started feeling about their bodies because of media’s projections of the images in their lives and minds. Women tend to be in fear that if their bodies are not according to how the media is projecting, then their partners will not be sexually attracted to them. Despite this not being true, it is very hard for women to move past this claim about how they should look. It also impacts the way they have intimate relationships in their lives.
Several researchers have conducted studies regarding the issue of media and how it influence women. According to Park (2005), women’s magazines tend to have ten and a half-times more adverts and articles that promote weight loss than men magazines. Movies and television tend to be reinforcing the importance of thin bodies as a measure of the worth of a woman. In most movies, heavy actresses usually receive negative comments from the male characters regarding their bodies. According to Park (2005), the exposure of images of young, thin, air-brushed female bodies are linked with loss of self-esteem, depression, and development of unhealthy eating habits in girls and women.
According to Kinnally and Vonderen (2012), the media are responsible for degrading of women. The media have not yet managed to achieve this straight away; however, it is a process that takes times because advertisement are seen by the target people and may not be processed right away. Otherwise, the continuous portrayal of women in a manner as an object rather than a human being can stick in the sub-consciousness of people. At first glance, it can appear as something bad; however, when people continue seeing it regularly, they can start believing it even without thinking. The media tend to have found a way that through using movies, music videos, and advertisement, it can influence how people are viewing women. There are different ways that the media is using so as to portray the way women see themselves, how they are viewed, and turning women to sex objects.
The society tends to be up to date with what is happening. Because of the rise in technology and mediums, it is now common for people to encounter adverts. The constant barrage of the media is now part of our daily life. This is because people have grown to believe they are immune to adverts and end up believing that the adverts do not have any effect on them (Holmstrom 2004). Therefore, in order to attract more attention, the media continue to send more explicit content that is either more sexual or more violent. In this situation, the problem is that young children are also caught in the process, and they get exposed to such content and grow up with the constant perception on how they should see women.
When considering women’s portrayal by media and the impact it has on society, Kinnally and Vonderen (2012) argues that the philosophy tends to have a great impact on women and mostly young women. During the adolescent stage, young people normally develop a sense of identity and self. Therefore, while, in this stage, the media sends the message to girls and women that the most essential thing is how women look. Thus, it causes women to have the belief that their self-worth depend on the men's attention. This problem not only affects young girls and women, but it has an impact on men and how they think and perceive women.
The regular abuse of women’s sexuality to selling products in the sports, film, beer, and music industries has distorted out understanding of gender roles and sexuality. According to Holmstrom (2004), the anxiety that women and girls usually experience because of feeling unattractive is a very damaging and pervasive impacts of advertising. The one body type that is presented by the media is the very tall, thin woman who is likely to meet the criteria for anorexia. The bad news is that this body shape is not attainable for approximately 99 % of women.
There have been various theories derived to explain the argument about media and its relation to gender inequality. According to functional theorists, they state that despite the existence of differing roles, gender inequality does not inevitably. These theorists claim that the gender roles are usually based on the gender’s nature and the division of labor follows. Based on this argument, men tend to be more task-oriented while women are fit for emotional tasks. This result to high managerial positions, law, and professions based in science and women are in nurturing positions like homemakers, nurses, and teachers.
According to this theory, the society usually performs a function that will contribute to the larger picture. Therefore, when men do work and women raise children; it results to a functioning society. The media tend to have contributed to gender inequality. In media, the achievement of women at most times goes unreported Kinnally and Vonderen (2012). However, if it is reported, it is normally done in a manner that it mocks, patronizes or trivializes. If the achievements of women are reported, it is done on the basis of sex appeal and looks.
Media tend to have affected the society greatly on how women are portrayed. Because of the constant media, women tend to perceive themselves negatively. Studies indicate that women who view the image of beauty in the media as being ideal are likely to have very negative body image. From the way the media portray women as sex objects and are being dehumanized, men are acting a more aggressive and disrespectful manner expecting that women will be empowered by them. Despite media having positive impact in some way, it tends to have resulted to many expectations on women. The way women are dehumanized by the beauty industry is having a great impact in our society. This issue should be controlled immediately because its effects tend to have negative repercussions on the lives of people. The only positive impact it has in regards to the stereotypes is that it tend to bring profits to the industry. However, it affects life in the society because women start depreciating themselves while men start treating women as objects.
Holmstrom, A (2004). The effects of the media on body image Journal of broadcasting and electronic media 48 (1)
Kinnally, W & Vonderen, K (2012). Media effects on body image American communication journal 14 (2)
Park, S (2005). The influence of presumed media influence on women's desire to be thin Communication Research, 32 (5) 594-614
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