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Women in the Media

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Women in the Media

Since the beginning of time the female body has been associated with image and appearance. Women have been objectified, discriminated against or treated differently strictly because of their gender. In earlier civilizations it was understood and sadly nearly accepted, that women were looked upon as being items and solely dependent on their husbands for everything. We have come to realize that the derogatory remarks and the objectifying of women have reached a new level. The dehumanization of women has always been a deep underlying factor in our society and will continue to be until there is a severe change in the global media.

Long ago, there was a little girl who did not know how she should act and portray herself so she resorted to the media. Based on her observations, what she discovered in the media is that sadly two options: She could like pretty colors, be thin, glamorous and subservient to men or she could be successful and strong women and live a lonely life without love. As humans we are shaped and molded by our surroundings and things we see and hear. From the time that we females are young, we grow up with a pre-conceived image in our heads of how the women in society should act and look. It's all around us. From television to magazines to commercials and even music. Females are constantly being put on pedestals that are unattainable to reach. And more times then none women fight to reach the level of acceptance. They do not do it for themselves; they do it for all the wrong reasons and often times they go about it in unhealthy ways. They go on every single diet possible, from starving themselves to spending 6 hours at the gym. And for what? To have the body image they think is acceptable based on social norms and feel so dreadful about themselves at the same time.

It's no secret that women compare themselves to the female images they see portrayed on television, film, and advertisements. At both the conscious and subconscious levels, these media images of women lower self-esteem and affect behavior at every age and stage of life. We know they're unrealistic, but it causes pressure on women to conform, and influence how we live, love, work and play. Women's magazines are full of articles urging them to loose those last twenty pounds and the immense difference that it will make to their daily life. The topic of unattainable beauty is perhaps one of the most disturbing elements of body image. Researchers created a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions and found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body. A real women built in that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition. Jill Barad president of Mattel (which manufactures Barbie) estimated that 99% of girls from the ages of 3-10 years old own at least one Barbie doll. The number of real life women and girls who seek a similarly body weight is rampant, and they can suffer equally devastating health consequences.

In addition to unattainable beauty, the culture of thinness has frightening statistics. Researchers report that women's magazines have up to ten times more ads and articles promoting weight loss then men's magazine's do and over three quarters or the covers of women's include at minimum one message about how to change their bodily appearance- by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery. Television and movies reinforce the significance of a thin body as a measure of a women's worth. Canadian researcher Gregory Fouts reports, "over three-quarters of the female characters in TV situation comedies are underweight, and only one in twenty are above average in size. Heavier actresses tend to receive negative comments from male characters about their bodies ("how about wearing a sack")." The advisements that teens are usually exposed to typically glamorize skinny models that do not resemble the average woman. In fact, today's models generally weight 23% less then the average woman. Considering the average person in the United States sees approximately 3,000 ads in billboards, magazines and television everyday, teens get the wrong message about appearance far too often. Media targeting young, adolescent teenage girls are emphasizing the ideal of thinness as beauty. When you stop and think about the fact that the average height and weight for a model is 5'10" and 110 pounds, and the height and weight for the average woman is 5'4" and 145 pounds, its easy to see why this creates a tremendous health risk and false advertisement for young girls.

The bombardment of messages about thinness, dieting, and beauty tell ordinary women that there is always something that can be perfected or adjusted. When in reality everyone is built differently and we need to accept that and embrace our imperfections and flaws because that is what makes us unique and sets us apart from everyone. Researcher, Jean Kilbourne, argues that the overwhelming presence of media images of painfully slender women



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