For this essay, my title is ‘An in depth study on how the representation of gender in the media has an impact on women’. I hypothesise that the media portray women in an unrealistic and negative light, making women (but mostly young girls) develop a negative self concept with regard to their capability and their appearance. To test this hypothesis, I used a combination of academic and cultural sources to research. I have also done some primary research to conduct my findings.
I think that this particular area is a big part of the media and it is an issue about which women feel strongly. I wanted to become more aware of the issues of this subject so that I can take more care when writing content for my online magazine, making sure I do not portray women in an unnatural or negative light. I will explore the impact that magazines and other types of media have on women, and why the content in which women are being represented matters.
According to Burton, “Many women enjoy reading these magazines yet realized that they are being levered into certain roles, and into being concerned for their appearance in the eye of the male gaze” (2005, pg132). Burton is suggesting that women are reading magazines and wanting to look like the people who appear in them, which is more or less impossible due to all the editing they do to the images. It also states that women are also becoming more concerned about what men/boys are thinking of their appearance and the way they act. This supports my hypothesis because this quote is saying that women are wanting to change their appearance or the way they act so that males find them more attractive, which is wrong especially for young girls who are more venerable to the media and look up to their role models.
This poster advertising diet pills had a lot of controversial opinions when it got advertised. “It was banned in the UK over body confidence and health concerns at the end of April” according to The Guardian in 2015. Many people said it made them feel as though they re not beach body ready, which lowers their self confidence and will maybe want them to resort in weight loss pills, which is not a healthy way to lose weight. I asked Holly Askew (20) what she thought. She said “I don’t really think that there is anything wrong with the advertisement personally because no one would purchase weight loss pills if the women displayed was going to be large lady because the whole point of the advertisement is so that people who want to lose weight have something to aspire to. I also think its unfair on the model in the advertisement to be criticised the way she is, surely this is body shaming as well?”. This quote challenges my hypothesis because she makes a very good point that people wouldn’t want to by what they are advertising if the woman didn’t look slim good looking. And the same point would probably apply to women’s magazines. Young girls aspire to celebrities who look good and act in a certain way, so would they still purchase the magazines if they didn’t look like this? Also, Holly mentions a good point of the women in the advertisement getting body shamed. The media cannot win either way because if they show larger women in ads, society might start saying its unfair on slimmer women. These question is vital and determine how my FMP of my lifestyle webzine is going to look.
Valderrama (2015) said: “Women’s bodies are sexualized in ads in order to grab the viewer’s attention.Women become sexual objects when their bodies and their sexuality are linked to products that are bought and sold. Media activist Jean Kilbourne agrees. She notes that women’s bodies are often disme
mbered into legs, breasts or thighs, reinforcing the message that women are objects rather than whole human beings.” This quote is development towards my hypothesis because not only are the media showing women in an unnatural light, but they re also showing them in a sexualised light. This quote says that women bodies are sued to ‘grab viewers attention’, which would most likely to be mens attention. Women bodies are shown to advertise stereotypically mens products including aftershave, car advertisement and mens underwear. Half naked women even appear in mens magazines (e.g. Maxim- see example) to draw their audience in. These magazines show women in a sexual way to men, leaving men to think its acceptable to treat women how the media are treating them. This also supports my hypothesis because magazines are making women look a certain way by presenting them with sexual clothing and poses, which is very stereotypical and unfair on most of the women who don’t look like this.
According to Stewart “Articles about safe sex, relationships, healthy eating and exercise guide teens through their life struggles. Features on academics and careers, motivate and encourage teens in their endeavours” This quote is listing some of the content that women magazines have in them that can be useful to women. It also says that these things can act as a guide for teens meaning this can have a positive impact on them. This challenges my hypothesis because as well as magazines having a negative impact on some women, magazines can also be really useful especially towards teens who idolise certain magazines. Teen magazines especially include content that can make young vulnerable girls aware of certain things such as ‘safe sex’ as the quote says.
Overall, from doing this research I have found evidence to support my hypothesis. I have found this in multiple ways; from magazines making women look ‘perfect’ and ‘sexualised’, advertisements controversy and peoples own opinions on the matter. Although most of all this backed up my hypothesis, one topic was highlighted when the question of ‘would people still purchase these magazines if women were not portrayed the way they were’. These challenged my hypothesis but overall most of the research that I collected backed up my hypothesis.
- Burton, G. (2004) Media and society: Critical perspectives. Maidenhead: Open University Press, Page132
- Hackman, R. (2016) Are you beach body ready? Controversial weight loss ad sparks varied reactions. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/27/beach-body-ready-america-weight-loss-ad-instagram (Accessed: 3 February 2017).
- Valderrama, B. (2017) How woman are portrayed in the media (with images) · bvalderrama. Available at: https://storify.com/bvalderrama/how-woman-are-portrayed-in-the-media (Accessed: 3 February 2017).
- Susan Larson (2008) Dreamworlds 3: Desire, sex & power in music video. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDMo5cIJN3A (Accessed: 3 February 2017).
- Archiv časopisu maxim – ročník 2010 (2011) Available at: http://www.periodik.cz/predplatne/casopis.php?akce=archiv&titul=52&rok=2010 (Accessed: 3 February 2017).
- Stewart, P. (2017) The positive influence magazines have on people. Available at: http://penandthepad.com/positive-influence-magazines-people-8191515.html (Accessed: 8 February 2017).