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

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.