By Jenna Tocatlian.
[Update: Feel the exhilaration of watching my dad ride through the streets of Saigon on the back of a motorbike. A new one for my bucket list!]
Lights. Camera. Action.
In the media, we are constantly seeing abnormally thin women with flawless complexions that look like they are living the ideal lives. When many people look at an advertisement they often question what they could do to be more like the models. Will this product make me prettier? Will this product make me skinnier? One would not think that every ad you see is a lie; every image is retouched. This is a strategy used to make the women look more desirable.
In all shapes and sizes of the media, there is the pandemic of deception on behalf of the media ads. This pandemic makes girls around the globe feel as if they are not good enough; because they cannot look like photo-shopped images in their every-day lives. Females of this generation need to stop absorbing the non-truths that the media portrays and accept their true beauty. It has become a common occurrence for young girls to adapt eating disorders in order to be “thin” like the models that they see on TV. Today, the media is a blank canvas and it is painted with the ideas that if you are not thin, flawless or look like a model, you do not fit into society’s mold of beauty. In places such as music videos, TV programs, movies and advertisements- women are constantly reminded of what the world wants them to look like. The media has a habit of painting beauty in a negative way that makes women feel inadequate.
The Music Industry
In most music videos, females are portrayed in inappropriate ways that give the wrong impressions and teach immoral lessons to girls. More often than not, these music videos portray women dancing sexually or wearing provocative clothing. A prime example of this is Justin Bieber. He has over 39 million followers on Twitter alone and many more fans that wait hours in hopes to catch a glance of him. When Bieber released his music video “Boyfriend,” there was another ‘Bieber craze.’ Even though this video is well produced and catches the viewers’ eye, it sends the wrong message to girls. Throughout the three and a half minute video, Bieber is kissing, serenading and sexually dancing with a dozen of different women. In the millions of fans that Bieber has, there are also young girls that worship him as a musician and hope that one day they will find a boy like Justin Bieber.Young girls who watch videos like this start thinking that unless they look like the girls in these videos, they will never get the guy of their dreams or live life like a rock star. Bieber is not the only star that objectifies women, this can be found in videos of any and all genres.
The Effects of Profanity
The American Psychological Association has proved that music videos have a large impact on the viewers’ confidence and have serious effects. “Sexualisation ‘harms’ young girls” it stated that, “Sexualisation can lead to a lack of confidence as well as depression and eating disorders.”Depression and different eating disorders are a result of not only the way that the people in videos dress or act but also the content that is expressed in the songs (BBC) Many artists refer to women as “bit*ches” or even worse cuss words; it is obvious how it impacts women in a negative way. An example of poor words representing women is Drake’s music video “HYFR.” In the beginning of this video, viewers are put into a temple environment where it appears that Drake is having his bar mitzvah service. This video shows women dancing in a promiscuous way, forcing men on themselves, and just an overall party environment. Even though the way that they show women is not appropriate, it is not the way the women are showed that is disturbing, but the way Drake refers to women in his lyrics. He continuously calls women “bitc*es” and only focused on his sexual relationships with females instead of focusing on emotional relationships.
Giving Men What They Want
It is not only men that treat women like they are objects, but women do it to themselves, too. In one of her music videos “Christina Aguilera dressed as a schoolgirl with her shirt unbuttoned, licking a lollipop.” (BBC). Also, Mariah Carey did something similar. When people like Ms. Aguilera dress sexually, it gives the message that it is “okay” for men to do this to women. An upsetting example of this is “Touch my Body” by Mariah Carey. If the name alone is not enough for you, this video shows the artist in skimpy clothes parading around. While showing much skin and bouncing on her bed with a ‘nerd’, Mariah sings, “touch my body, throw me on the floor.” This song and music video sells sex to the world, maybe more than necessary. In addition to the way that Mrs. Carey carries herself in the video, her lyrics are in your face and controversial. In all genres of music, no matter what the gender of the artist, it is not hard to see the way that women are portrayed as objects instead of humans.
TV and Movies
The public eye feeds off of the way that movies and TV shows paint women. From Disney movies to style program series the objectification of women does not stop. Disney is one of the primary stations that children watch and many life lessons are taught through their programs, one of them is how women should look. Almost every girl when she is little says “I want to be a princess when I grow up,” and that is because they are subjected to all the glitz and glamor that they see in movies.
It was reported by Lydia O’Connor, a journalist for a USC (University of South California) column, that “In 2000, Disney created the “Disney Princess” franchise, a move that brought all the princesses back into production in a line of merchandise that would earn Disney upwards of $4 billion a year.” That $4 billion moneymaker does not only consist of the movies, clothes and tiaras but it comes with the impression that everyone should act and look like a princess. From the beginning of Disney Princess times, the girls have always had a perfected physique, long hair, and prince charming that sweeps them off their feet at the end of the fairy tale. It gives little girls the impression that if they look like this, they will get a handsome prince, too.
This mentality has, in fact, become girls’ lifestyles. Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein recognizes the phenomenon that has been occurring with young girls over the course of the years (O’Connor). Movies that are aimed towards younger girls make a colossal impact on the psychological development of girls and make them all want to be like the pretty princess that they see in movies.
The same messages are also shown through TV series, too. The most important example of the way that TV media treats women is America’s Next Top Model. This show produced by model Tyra Banks, infamous for displaying luxurious women that are fighting to win a luxurious lifestyle. Although these women all poses a unique beauty, they are not healthy. In “Weight: A Problem on Screen” the author describes how “[this] show is becoming a very serious issue affecting our culture.” It has been causing social issues and depression on its viewers because it does not feature healthy or average women, but pieces of flesh that cover bones, also known as “models.” Although it is a show that is intended for entertainment, it has subliminal messages that are killing the girls of our society, literally.
These shows and ideas lead to a large interpretation of how far girls should go to accomplish society’s’ ideas of beauty. The models that look bone-thin often have eating disorders. Eliana Ramos, although not one of the contestants on America’s Next Top Model, was a model who died from a heart attack due to her anorexia, for the desire to be thinner than she already was. When hundreds of deaths like this happen to models, the people that are seen as pretty by the cameras, it gives girls that witness this the impression that it is not a bad thing. Shows like America’s Next Top Model and models that are glorified, like Elaina Ramos, which look like skin and bones, impose the wrong morals to girls and can be detrimental.
Advertisements are everywhere. From commercials to print ads, it seems as though the deception of the advertising industry never takes a day off. On average commercials are played every ten to fifteen minutes during TV programs. These commercials that are aimed to sell products are nowhere near realistic. For example, on commercials, the promises never stop.
Commercials sell you products that can make you look like the models that have “long and perfectly shiny hair, glowing skin, sparkling teeth, luscious lips and a flawless face (National Organization for Women). Advertising companies are taking complete advantage of their viewers; they instill false hope that maybe if they buy the same products as Megan Fox, that they will look the same and live the same happy lives, but how is that possible if one hundred percent of the advertisement images are photo shopped and retouched.
A famous quote said by Cindy Crawford, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.” Also, celebrities like Jessica Alba have been pixelated to have a smaller waist, luscious hair, larger bust and overall suit a more desirable persona. After seeing the results of that particular photo shoot she said, “I do not represent the norm because I know that seeing isn’t believing, it is deceiving.”
Women are never good enough the way they are; there is always something wrong in the eyes of the media. The extent that companies will go to make their models more magnificent is outstanding and quite upsetting. In magazines and pictures, Miss Crawford has been polished to the point that is unrealistic and unachievable. She made the statement to her fans that she does not look like that and the pictures they see are only as much as PhotoShop makes her out to be.
In mascara commercials, most of the lashes have extensions and in lip product commercials, most of the models have enhancements (Clark). The result of a product is nowhere near reality. Beauty has become something abstract that is not easy or cheap to achieve. The expenses do not stop at products but there are so many surgeries and procedures to be done to make the change permanent.
The media makes beauty something that is unachievable. With all the ways that media reached viewers, like the music industry, TV programs, movies, and advertisement business, it is hard for the public to catch a break without being victim to the slaughter that the media has made out of beauty. With the standards that society sets for females, it is no wonder that we fail to meet them because they are out of this universe and completely unreasonable. Six is the size that is considered “plus size” in America today. All girls that do not meet that silly number feel as though they are “big” and will do whatever it takes to be considered “beautiful and thin.”
It has gotten to the point that girls are dying over the sheer thought of looking like women, for example, Kate Upton, a model that is desired by men because of her body and looks. We have the opportunity to call someone beautiful every day. We have the opportunity to instill good self-esteem. We have the chance to make a change and make everyone feel as beautiful as the women that they see broadcasted in the media.
A Better Tomorrow
Recently, Dove has created a campaign about true beauty. They were put in a room with an artist that had never seen them before, only drew what they described of themselves. Next, an additional person that knew the features of the person, previously sketched before, described the same person to the artist; in total two sketches of the same person were drawn. All the sketches of the different showed the same results, the women’s’ portraits all showed happier and more beautiful people in the pictures where someone else described them (Gray).
The fact that women do not find themselves truly beautiful shows the impact that the media has on women. Media of all types makes women feel lesser when they are truly unique and beautiful. If we work towards improving the way the media impacts us, we could solve the problem at hand, not feeling as though you are beautiful due to what the media leads us to believe.
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