Women and the Media: The Influence of Magazines, and such...

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Last Post

I have always had an interest on the topic of women’s representation in the media. Ever since my first subscription to Seventeen magazine, I always wondered why the girls had to dress a certain way or why did most of the ads have to be so sexual. I also thought whether or not women between ages sixteen and twenty-two really followed the fashion or other advice given in these magazines.

The social norms and hegemonic messages that have facilitated my interest to the topic were basically the plain fact that young adult women were falling victim to the advertisements presented in these seemingly innocent magazines. Even with all the stereotypical contents in the magazines, there are plenty of positive articles featured in these magazines; articles describing real-life situations that young women can relate to and “advice” from doctors, among other things. Part of me does feel that the real-life stories featured are a way to justify that the magazine is not promoting hegemonic norms, but then if one were to look past the stories, there are articles and other sections that show how to apply make-up, keep/breakup with a boyfriend, how to dress for a date, how to style your hair with the changing season, and other things that “teach” young girls how to be an “IT” girl.

The same things that are presented in the magazines are also shown on television. Before the class, when I would watch a television show, specifically reality TV, I would notice that the women on the shows almost always had to behave a certain way in order to get recognized. America’s Next Top Model, for example, has always had issues when it came to representing plus size women on the show. There were occasions where the bigger women were chosen to be finalists, but I always felt that this was only because the judges felt that they needed to have a “diverse” cast. I also noticed that in the end, the judges would always find a reason to eliminate these girls, and for the most part, that reason was barely justified by something concrete. This made me wonder well, how is the average woman watching this show supposed to feel about herself?

When it came to music, I have always had a problem listening to the condescending lyrics of hip-hop towards women, as well as the fact that it is made mandatory for women artists to have to always be sexy in their videos to even get attention. It is as if their talent is not apparent unless there is a massive display of skin. So those things simply stuck out to me when I watched television or listened to music.

My perception of the topic has not changed much, although I definitely gained valuable insight from the various readings from class and comments left on my blog. My ideas and feelings were confirmed by professionals and scholars familiar with the topic. I did not know that women were analyzed in all the different aspects that I wanted to investigate for the blog, and when I did find this out, my ideas and thoughts were confirmed and I was able to put some academic evidence behind my observations, which helped in showing how evident the hegemonic norms were supported in all types of media.

Today, when I look back at the way I first viewed my topic, I realize that I had a one-dimensional examination of how or why things are the way they currently and the way they will continue to be. I now understand myself better in the sense that it has been made clearer the way things work and that women will continue to be subject to hegemonic and social norms that they will never be able to properly fulfill. In her article “Because You’re a Girl,” by Ijeoma A., Ijeoma describes how things are in her country. She quoted her mother saying, “you’re a girl and we’re raising you to be a woman some day.” It was made apparent that most of the modern countries today view women as having specific roles that must be fulfilled, and if any women dare go against this, she will be subject to severe scrutiny. In the article, she continues on, telling readers what her family believed to be a woman’s role in the house. It was bizarre that she would think that America liberated her from her oppression back home because in all reality, America itself was oppressing women. This goes to show that no matter where a woman goes, there will always a standard that she must meet in order to be accepted by society.

People will continue to scrutinize women’s looks, behavior, and “motherly duties,” as we saw with Courtney Love debacle. Over the course of the semester, I was able to find concrete evidence to support my premature observations. Now I will be able to not only analyze everything I watch, listen to, or read, but will also be able to support them with tangible data.

Ijeoma A. "Beacause You're a Girl."Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism. Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman. New York: Seal Press, 2002.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Feedback from Melissa M. ( Blog) The Oprah Phenomenon

Meli said...

1. In Darling's blog, I found that the post titled " The World of Advertising" is a complete summary of her topic. She explains the fact that society now considers beauty to be formed by society. Moreover, she even concludes that this type of stereotypical beauty may still lead to discontent. I was very satisfied with her general evaluations about the issues.

2. Well, she could use her presentation to speak to everyone about the underlining meanings of beauty- what is wrong and what is right. Her personal opinion is very strong.

Constructive Critisim on statements:

- Darling's topic is dead on with one of the most controversial topics out there- beauty vs. the media. She picked a topic that needs to be analyzed.

-I believe that this topic does interest Darling. Hey, it would interest any woman!

-The issue of gender was, without a doubt, analyzed and recognized.

-Darling's posts were clear and to the point and easy to acknowledge!

-Your quotes were relevant to the posts. Yet, sometimes they could have been a little stronger and more on point with what you wanted to say.

-Quotes, on this topic, were scattered throughout the semester. Moreover, specific beauty quotes were appliable. Also, the quotes added to Darling's thoughts relatively well.

* I thought it was great when you posted the video, since the stats are interesting.

*I really did not find anything confusing for me.

*You're really great at developing your ideas and remaining clear!

*I wish you could focus on these three things:
-Someone or something campaigning for real beauty
-What women should do to reject society's norms
-Maybe a personal experience

Hope this helped!!

Blog Buddy Work: Melissa M; The Oprah Phenomenon

1. Where has your Blog buddy shown strong analytical work (be specific—is it a particular post, a type of analysis, a site for analysis that seemed to click more so than others, etc)?

2. How could your Blog buddy use this strength for the final Blog post and presentation?

3. Think about the following statements in relation to your Blog buddy’s Blog and then provide feedback on each area (constructive praise/criticism):

The Blog is on a topic that has been clearly evident in the Blog posts throughout the semester

The Blog is on a topic that seems to interest my Blog buddy

My Blog buddy’s topic is one that has produced a good set of posts that were analytical used gender as a primary category of analysis

The posts make analytical arguments. The posts are understandable and each post logically outlines and supports the argument presented. The posts were clear, provided insight, evidence, and analysis to connect the topic with the assignment for each of the posts

The sources cited in each post are relevant to the topic and help to aid the understanding of the argument and/or assisted in proving the argument.

The quotes used illustrate a broad range of course readings throughout the semester.

The quotes were clear and succinct; additionally, the material was presented so that I could differentiate the Blog buddy’s ideas from that of the author cited.

Finally, complete the following:

I thought it was great when you...

I found it confusing when you…

You’re really great at…

I wish you could focus (more) on/alter/edit/explain/expand on/etc these three things…
(Basically, when you read the Blog posts, what do you wish your buddy had done differently, more of, etc?)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In Recent News: Don Imus and the Women of the Rutgers University Basketball Team

Many people continue to stand on the belief that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Some might ridicule this type of thinking by saying that there is one true way one can be beautiful. When it comes to women’s beauty, there continues to be much debate about what is acceptable and what is not.

In recent news, Don Imus has been put on the hot seat for his on-air comment regarding the Rutgers University Women’s basketball team. Ranking second in the nation, the women were offended when Imus referred to them as “nappy-headed hoes.” This comment alone created an uproar in the African-American community, with requests that Imus resign or be fired as a radio commentator, which would end his 29- year career.

This issue poses a question many people might not think about right away upon hearing about it. The question being, why were the women offended when Imus said what he said? There are many answers to this; some of them stemming from the way African-American women have viewed themselves in the past and the way the word “nappy” has been used as a derogatory term. Another reason that I was made aware of is that naturally curly hair is not beautiful, this comment coming from black women themselves. I found that quite shocking and wondered why a “natural” look would be considered unappealing. People are now forced to wrestle with the stereotypical notion that beauty is associated with “straight hair and light skin.”

Race is definitely evident in this current media phenomenon. This would not have been this big a deal if the women Imus was referring to were another race other than Afro-American. Ideal beauty have been so distorted that one’s natural hair texture is now “unacceptable,” allowing room for others to also view it as “ugly.”

Terry Pluto, author of one the articles dissecting this occurrence, says that “there are many blessings of the women’s movement in athletics, but one of the best is that girls and young women are not made to feel inferior because they lack what society says is classic beauty.” The women affected seem to take Imus’ comments in stride in that most of them are already confident in their looks because they have already identified who they are. Most of them know that beauty is definitely not defined by hair texture.

One of the defenses for Imus is that African-American rappers are known to refer to the women as “bitches and hoes,” recounts Imani Perry’s article Who(se) Am I? The Identity of Women in Hip-Hop. In her article, she describes the misogynistic ways of hip-hop. What everyone is trying to figure out in this current news event is the reason for all the heat towards Imus. The bottom line remains simple: Imus must not use degrading references toward a specific group of people and blame it on hip-hop. Not only that, but the culture’s misrepresentation of true beauty should also be blamed as a catalyst in this who ordeal. If it were not for the constant view that a woman must be about five and a half inches tall, ninety pounds with “straight” hair, some of this debate could have been avoided. The issue with race still remains, as their continues to be ignorance amongst “educated” groups of people.

Saturday, March 31, 2007


Today's American culture stresses heterosexuality. When looking at women, we notice that in order to attract the opposite sex, they need to make sure their looks are appealing to what men want. This begins at early age. An article by Mary Rogers, entitled "Hetero Barbie?," mentions the influence of Barbie on young girls. With the Barbie image, girls are taught how to dress and style their hair, all in the hopes of attracting a man. The collage above demonstrates these images in adult women as they are portrayed in the media. When reading a fashion magazine, there are tips on how to apply make-up, what to wear for the new season, and how to keep a man. Sometimes I wonder if women are ever allowed to simply be themselves and maybe sport a natural look. That would definitely be a crime in the fashion industry.
Sex sells. The television shows, magazine photos, and musical references above show us that if a woman does not have sex appeal, it will be extremely hard for her to get what she wants. Brains and/or knowledge are rarely discussed in these maagazines or televison shows. Who cares if a woman went to school for fifteen years? The question today is, does she look good?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Why This Topic? Take a Look

Assignment (post) 3

Darling Charles

My blog is created to shed some light and gain some insight on the way America depicts beauty and the ways in which women’s looks have been revamped. Because of the constant nagging from the media to be thin and sexy at all times, American culture has made it so that it is nearly impossible to for a woman to feel good about herself. I always examine this through what I read in magazines (specifically ads) and books, what I hear when I listen to music, and what I see when I watch television. It always baffles me to see women go to extreme lengths to fit in and to follow the norm that others have deemed appropriate. I chose the blog as a site to analyze gender and pop culture in an effort to better understand why and how so many factors and ideas are devoted solely to women’s figure.

I decided not to focus on one single topic to analyze, but instead chose to disseminate this idea by combining the main sources that portray women in idealistic form. When it comes to music, there seems to be this huge line that female artists are not even allowed to cross. What I mean by this is that in songs, there is this sort of unwritten rule that female artists are only supposed to sing about getting their hearts broken, or some other form of relationship woe. Female performers are also told that sex sells, which may call for them to portray a strong sexual image. When we look at the opposite side of the spectrum, we notice men are sometimes allowed to speak of women however they may feel in their music. This may include having close-to-nude women in a music video, or lyrics that simply degrade women.

When it comes to television, focusing on reality, I have noticed that the pressure to be thin is the greatest. On one episode of “Making the Band,” Diddy, the creator of the show, tells some of the female contestants that they need to lose weight in order to even be considered for a position in his band. As expected, the girls went out and lost the weight in an effort to gain favor in Diddy’s eyes, which in the end did not lead to a position in the band. This is one of a million examples and cases where women were subject to change their appearance in order to gain acceptance.

Now ads. Magazines are pretty much what a lot of people use to keep up with the latest trends and current events. I do not oppose magazine reading at all, but the influence that comes with not just reading a magazine, but actually using it as a means to guide one’s lifestyle is where the issue begins. Women are mainly the object used to attract men and even other women to read magazines. In one case, Gloria Steinem wrote in her article, “Sex, Lies and Advertising,” that “carmakers draped blondes in evening gowns over the hoods like ornaments,” (GCRM 224). This mere act is appalling. It makes one stop and ask why women? In Steinem’s article, she also mentions that men are usually the ones in authoritative positions, even when it comes to women’s magazines.

I am aware that not everyone will interpret this topic(s) as I interpret it. When it comes to music degrading women, some may say that not every song is written to attack women, or that certain songs only apply to a certain types of women. As for reality television, some may say that if a woman would like to succeed in the entertainment industry, then she definitely has to appeal to her audience, which may mean lots of skin exposure. And finally, some may say that women should be the ones rejecting jobs for ads that degrade the female population. All of these views are debatable, and I plan on analyzing some of the possible reasons why things are the way they currently are.

In order to understand pop culture as a whole, people have to start integrating all of the things that make up pop culture. What better way to do this then to analyze three of the most influential aspects of American culture? Before I started to truly analyze these issues, I had my own opinions of the topic, but I have come to learn that my opinion does not mean anything when it comes to real analysis. Since my topic does have a multi-layered power dynamic, there still remain many dimensions to dissect.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The World of Advertising By: Wordpress.com

Everywhere we turn, advertising is telling people, women especially, what it means to be desirable. Many of these messages share a common theme: women must be “beautiful.”. Women have always been measured against cultural ideals of beauty, but advertising often uses sexism to make images of “ideal beauty” more prevalent and increasingly unattainable. Twenty years ago, the average model only weighed 8% less than the average woman, whereas the average model today weighs 23% less. Most models today are thinner than 95% of the population. In a recent study by Dove, the researches found that out of the survey respondents, only 2% considered themselves to be “beautiful.” Many researchers argue that the unrealistic portrayal of women in the media can be detrimental to advertisement viewer’s health. Studies show that advertisements of ultra-thin women increases a viewer’s body-focused anxiety.


They say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Today, we notice that beauty has been transformed to be what the society considers it to be. While Dove tries to sway from the image that women should be stick thin, many other media conglomerates refuse to portray women in a healthy light.

There seems to be an extreme body image issue here. It is apparent that, although some women do fit the stereotypical beauty ideal, many of them continue to have low self-esteem. This shows that even when some women do accomplish the ideal look, they continue to be dissatisfied with themselves. It is obvious that we can not please everyone. As soon as a guideline is set for how women should look, there are and will always be those who are dissatisfied with their appearance. This is the reason why women should first work on their body image, how they perceive themselves, and from there, decide what the best look for them should be.

Once that has been accomplished, the decision to lose or gain weight should be left up to the woman, not the way others, the media, want her to look. If women start to make their own decisions as to how they want to look, then the media will take notice. This would probably lead to a more diverse representation of women in the future.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


As I sat and watched yet another episode of “My Super Sweet Sixteen”, I could not help but wonder how those children grew up to portray the epitome of what American culture has led them to become. The behavior of the teen aged guys versus the girls was extremely distinct, which is the result of years of socialization from a culture that has set rules for appropriate male and female behavior.

The media represents different groups of people in ways that it thinks is more appealing. For example, after watching a few episodes, I first noticed that there were not too many guys entering to have their party filmed. Of the males that actually did get their parties filmed, there were some subtle, as well as major differences in the way they handled themselves as opposed to the females. I concluded that two factors contributed to such behavior: society’s view of how a man or woman should act, and the fact that Americans are thought to be major consumers.

Feminine versus Masculine

In his piece, Phil W. Petrie described, although comically, the way society has created it so that men are not allowed to cry. Once they cry, a sign of weakness is shown. Linking this to the show, the guys always seem to want to outdo everyone, and when faced with issues dealing with party details, they maintain certain composure. When analyzing the girls, I noticed that most of them threw tantrums or cried their eyes out because they did not get their way. In the article, Petrie refers to a guy in trouble who lacks health insurance, and therefore can not afford for his baby to be delivered (221). Petrie describes his thoughts, with the guy thinking that his wife is being too emotional, “just like a woman” (221).

Society has socialized men and women to think that there are certain behaviors that are only acceptable, especially in public. In a recent episode, one teen defied that concept. All her friends categorized her as a tomboy. She threw a party opposite of what any other girl has ever thrown. This proves that although there are some major descriptive ways of female versus male behavior, there is sometimes room for change.

Consumerism and Gender Norms

Everyone has been exposed to ads. Whether it is while watching television or simply walking the dog, advertisements are constantly being put in front of Americans in an effort to increase consumption. It is apparent that ads do influence the way in which guys and girls behave. When looking at the show, I noticed that the guys always want the most over-the-top, manly things incorporated into their parties, not to mention “hot” chicks to perform. In her article, Juliet Schor mentioned the terms “competitive consumption” (GRCM, 185), stating that people feel the need to keep up. With men, showing wealth represents power, which is why at such a young age, the guys on the show feel that it is their duty to show the world that they have money and can afford to have anything, including women. The same applies for the females. In one episode, one girl wanted to fly to Paris in order to buy a dress. This is something that she definitely learned watching television and seeing that the celebrities only shopped at high end designer stores.

Although it may not seem obvious to some, consumer culture plays a major role in directing the way men and women view themselves. A man will always feel that he is weak if he fails to provide the best for his children or himself. A woman might not feel pretty if she is not wearing the latest trends or makeup. With the show, it is quite a shocking revelation to see that at such a young age, those teenagers are already allowing preset rules and ideas to run their lives.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

L.I.N.K.S (the website links dealing with women in different forms of media)

  1. I feel that this link touches upon the different issues women and young girls face when they watch television and when they read magazines
  • http://www.mediaandwomen.org/problem.html
2. IMAGE: Lela Rose Fall 2007 Fashion Show
  • http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid86195573/bclid86272812/bctid494535770
3. Of course, there are many fashion magazines that give tips from how to keep up with the latest trends to how to keep a man. Glamour is one of them
  • http://www.glamour.com/fashionbeauty
4. MAKEUP: "Gotta look good for the guys" (and sometimes maybe for ourselves)
Backstage with Bobbi Brown
  • http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid86195573/bclid86272812/bctid488099631
5. This website outlines the issues women face and proposed changes
  • http://www.genderit.org/en/index.shtml?w=a&x=91365

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Curious Thoughts on the Cosmopolitan Reading

As I was reading the assigned article in the book, I could not help but to think that everything I read was true. The editor-in-chief of Cosmo had the intentions of glamorizing women and providing for them a "guide" of how to be the ultimate 'it" girl. In today's media, I notice this occurring more frequently on shows like "Style Her Famous" and "What Not to Wear" and other fashion rescue shows. Women are definitely the target for these shows. Interesting.....