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Media Influence on Young Women from a Feminist Perspective

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Deepika Bhandari

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of Media Influence on Young Women from a Feminist Perspective

Learn how to pursue a dangerously unhealthy, underweight and virtually impossible body image! December 2012 "Lose weight, feel great!" Did YOU know that by six years of age, a large number of girls desired a thinner ideal figure? Both peer and media influences emerge as significant predictors of body image and dieting awareness. Specifically, girls’ perceptions of their peers’ body dissatisfaction predicted their own level of body dissatisfaction and dieting awareness. Watching music television shows and reading appearance-focused magazines predicted dieting awareness. In particular, girls who looked at magazines aimed at adult women had greater dissatisfaction with their appearance. Thus, studies highlight that girls aged five to eight years are already living in an appearance culture in which both peers and the media influence body image and dieting awareness. (Dohnt, 2006) Body image dissatisfaction is acknowledged as a pervasive problem experienced by a large proportion of society (Polivy and Herman, 2002). In fact, the desire for thinness is so prevalent among women that it has been identified as a ‘normative discontent’ (Rodin et al., 1985). The media plays a vast role in teen girls and the portrayal of women today. For instance, in the issues of the Teen Vogue magazines, women are illustrated in various perspectives that greatly influence young teenage females. This is done through stereotypes which are defined as “misleading and simplified representations of a particular social group” (Ott & Mack, 2010, p.180). Overall, magazines such as Teen Vogue give unrealistic expectations to young teenage females through their display of several advertisements. You're FAT. To begin with, the advertisements presented in this magazine show a wide range of “images of women who tend to emphasize passiveness and weakness” (Ott & Mack, 2010, p.182). Women are most likely displayed naked which symbolizes vulnerability and fragility; this is especially apparent within perfume advertisements in this particular magazine. For instance, Chloe, Miss Dior and Acqua di Gioia are all fragrances that use naked females with seductive poses (open mouths) females to help sell their product. The glaring similarity between all of these ads is the fact that the perfume bottles/product is placed near the women’s breasts, grabbing the viewer’s attention. The human eye notices the model’s barenaked skin and then follows down to the chest area, ultimately recognizing the product. The models are evidently naked all “standing beautifully and possess dangerously underweight figures” (Ott & Mack, 2010, p.182) thus drawing additional attention to her physical beauty rather than her abilities or talents. “Stereotypical images of ‘passive feminity’ present women with an unhealthy, underweight and virtually impossible body image that many internalize and destructively pursue” (Ott & Mack, 2010, p.191). In relation to young teens, is it appropriate for them to be exposed to this? Films have a motion picture rating system, which restricts what they can see; however, magazines do not which gives freedom to almost anyone. The portrayal of dangerously underweight woman enforces female youth to be more revealing with their body but to feel comfortable in doing so, they must become extremely petite. Media gives a false definition to the term ‘beautiful’. Works Cited Ott, B. L., & Mack, R. L. (2010). Critical media studies: An introduction Singapore: Ho Printing Singapore Pte Ltd. Furthermore, there is a frequent representation of women in magazine advertisements as sexual objects and proves that “to be feminine is to be available, responsive and open to male sexual advances” (Ott & Mack, 2010, p.186). In Teen Vogue’s ad of Vigoss, the same model is used; in one, she has her legs wide open on the motorcycle with a seductive look on her face and in the other, she is leaning over to allow her behind and breast to be in focus, along with her mouth open. “Media representations of women construct them as sexual conquests to be pursued and lusted after” (Ott & Mack, 2010, p.186) and this is fully demonstrated by these specific advertisements. In fact, it is most likely that the viewer is actually unaware of what product is being sold; it almost appears as if this woman is “selling herself”. Last but certainly not least, the Teen Vogue magazines tend to represent women as “the family nurturer” (Ott & Mack, 2010, p.184) and the common media image of the housewife is blatantly the most obvious expression of this domestic stereotype. It is slightly doleful that this particular image is still apparent within a teen magazine. What effect does that have on young females? It could possibly mislead them into thinking that they will be “in the kitchen” anyway, which might possibly influence them to stop working for what they once wished to achieve and unfortunately give up on their goals, overall. Additionally, jokes are made in elementary and middle schools about men telling woman to make them a sandwich, but is this really a joke? It is becoming more serious, empowering men over women slowly in the real, business world.
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