The Perpetuation Of Female Stereotypes Essay

1354 words - 5 pages

Images are all around us, and while some are helpful many can destroy the image that is our existence. These negative images are projected at us through media, and the media is all around us, making it at the very least difficult if not impossible to ignore them. A great analysis of the effect of these negative images on young women is a film titled Beyond Killing Us Softly. The third in a series of films on the advertising industry, body image, and women, Beyond Killing Us Softly is a 30-minute documentary that explores the question of how adolescent girls interpret the confusing, conflicting, and sexist messages they get from the media. Featuring feminist activists and scholars including Carol Gilligan, Amy Richards, Gloria Steinem, and Gail Dines, the film goes beyond calling girls "victims," and shows them interacting with potentially harmful messages and resisting the call to victim hood. This documentary calls attention to the harmful images with which we are faced with daily. Images such as a recent ad from Style magazine show how our media subtly impose standards of femininity, materialism, and vulnerability in order to be considered sexy.

America dictates standards of femininity upon the masses, in turn forcing one image as being the only way a woman can be beautiful. The media screams twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week through television, newspapers, magazines, billboards and many more, and our society is structured in such a way that we appear powerless in its wake. We are slapped with images of tiny, skinny women and told to be like that with their advertisements. They leave us with a feeling of, "Look like this, or die trying." The ad found in Style magazine, for Pepe Jeans, is a typical demonstration of this message. This ad shows a blonde woman in her early twenties or late teens perhaps kneeling down on a hard wood floor pulling her skirt (from Pepe Jeans) off while looking seductively down. This woman is the perfect example of the media's projection of femininity, and beauty. She is white, and at that blonde, very skinny and has typical white "delicate" features. Her face and body appear flawless with no signs of scars, or blemishes or any other markings that would simply suggest normal living. No doubt this woman has lived through normal life experiences such as falling off a bike or scraping her knee on the concrete. In a classroom at Wheelock College, while scantily clad models from Cosmopolitan flash across the big screen, Professor Dr. Gail Dines warns, "Real women don't look like this. Even models don't look like this." The provocative professor points out that airbrushed images have been around for years. What's new is that pornographic poses have slipped into the mix. The media portrays her not as a human being, but as a flawless, beautiful, feminine, sexual being.

The problem with these impossible standards is that a woman is forced to lose her identity through these flawless and often-pornographic images...

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