Media Representation Of Women Of Color Is Low

2271 words - 10 pages

Media is an important component of American culture, from the music people listen to the movies they watch, the media people consume can and does consistently affect their views of the world, other people, and themselves. Women can be hurt by the media, and closing in even more, women of color. Representation in media is still quite low, despite how far America has come in terms of equality. This leaves the levels of exposure to races other than white relatively low and when there is representation of other ethnicities, they are often caricatures of demeaning stereotypes. No matter if someone identifies as European American or as another ethnic identity, the European American ideals and ...view middle of the document...

I will be looking at not only the physical aspects of race non- and misrepresentation, but also at the problems with misrepresenting the cultural aspects of a race and the effects that can have on people who are not being represented. Often it is the people of non-European descent, who I will be referring to as “people of color,” that end up being misrepresented.
Whitewashing and racebending are two issues that lend themselves to the cause of the Euro-centric media. In media such as television or movies, whitewashing is the casting of someone of European descent in a role that is supposed to be of another race. In such cases, the cast member is often someone of a skin tone that is darker or has features that are more similar to the originally intended race, but they are still misrepresenting the race as a whole. Racebending applies to cases when the race of the character is changed, generally from a minority race to white (Racebending.com). When one or both of these occur, there is the underlying message sent out to viewers that anyone not white is not good or pretty enough, and this is psychologically damaging to those viewers, especially when they are people of color, which are people of non-European descent.
In most media consumed, it is not evident that the lack of representation is a problem. The white majority has become the norm, to the point that when a European American is cast in a role from Asian media, there is no attention paid to it, especially when the source material is animation, such as Japanese anime or manga (Siek 2013). Some argue that because the characters are animated, they are beyond race and therefore casting someone of European heritage is not whitewashing. However, whitewashing that cannot be denied are the actions of magazines when they intentionally remove color from a cover image or even lighten it in order to give the person in the picture the appearance of being of lighter skin tone.
Beauty Redefined is an online blog that analyzes the cultural definitions of beauty and the harm they can cause. In February of 2011, one article looked at what the author referred to as the “whitewashing of beauty” and its’ presence in American media, especially magazines (Beauty Redefined 2011). They pointed out that the magazine Elle included four possible covers for one issue. The possible cover images were pictures of Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschanel, and Allison Williams. Of the four women, Mindy Kaling was the only woman who was not white, and her cover was also the only cover to be printed as black-and-white rather than in the full color the three other women were allowed. When actress Gabourey Sidibe was featured on the Elle cover in September of 2010, Photoshop was graciously applied in order to lighten her skin tone significantly. Beyoncé Knowles was given the same treatment in an ad by L’Oreal. Not only is this treatment given in the after-the-fact touchups, but these women also have hair that is...

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