Every time you turn on the news, watch that reality show, or look at a magazine, you are consuming media. This media women are taking in are actually harming them by the way reality television displays women, what roles women have in media, and how body image is affected by these.
Reality television is one of the biggest contributors to hurting women. On shows that are suppose to be real life, women are constantly pit against each other. Women are portrayed as competitive and catty.
This affects how girls view relationships and how theyre meant to behave. Among 78% of regular reality television watchers agreed that gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls.
Instead of representing women as positive role models, theyre displayed as something to strive for and be jealous of. Reality TV also has a major impact on how women view appearance. Women already have high expectations to live up to and when women on TV always exceed expectations, it can be hard looking in the mirror.
Even though the fact of the matter is, the camera turns off and they are fixed by professional make-up artists and designers, women are still affected by what they see on their screen. 38% of young women who watched reality television agreed girls are valued based on their appearance. This may not seem that high, but if it is thought about, the number should be zero. Girl scout and high school sophomore Caeley Looney agrees, The girls on these shows are looking bigger than life, perfect hair, perfect make-up, and girls are saying why am I not like that? (Melnick)
Women should all be evaluating themselves based off how they treat others and what theyre doing to make an impact.
Although, reality TV does the unexpected by showing statistics that more regular watchers were more self assured than those who didnt watch reality television. They saw themselves as mature, smart, funny, outgoing, and a good influence. This may be the girls that recognize they dont want to be like the women they see on TV. But if thats the case, reality television is still harming how women are represented.
Besides reality TV, the roles of women in media, like the news and films, also hurt women. In the news, anchors talk about the hairstyles and fashion of female politicians, instead of her policies. Once my grandpa said that if there were to be a female president, she would have to be younger and attractive. This is what we, as the new generation, need to change. Only now women are standing up for themselves with the Times Up and #MeToo movement, but women do not seek out leadership roles and as Cory Booker put it, After years of watching powerful women called bitches and ball-busters in the popular press-cue Hillary Clinton – these girls are avoiding leadership roles for fear theyll be labeled bossy. (Bennett)
Not only are women lacking in politics, but also in movies. Only 16% of protagonists in movies are women. This is alarming as the number of movies and female actresses there are. When there are positive portrayals of strong female characters, according to a study done at Texas A&M, men and women had less negative effects, like anxiety, than when women are submissive. This study shows everyone wants powerful women depicted, but the stereotype women are weak is still being enforced across media.
Because of media, body image of impressionable young women is affected. More than one in every ten girl reported vomiting to lose weight after being exposed to media. Along with purging and other unhealthy eating habits caused by media, girls suffer from eating disorders. It can be worrisome to parents, as Katie Couric describes, I worry about how much pressure my daughters feel in a society that features anorexic actresses and models and TV stars. (Bennett)
Not only does media affect one person, but that person spreads that information. Friends of teens are proven to have the greatest influence on body image, including eating disorders and how they perceive themselves. With media all telling girls different things about how to look and what to say, theres a lot of confusion. Little girls shadow what the media says and it leads to low self esteem. With so many girls being trained their appearance matters the most, it has been shown after watching reality TV, girls spend enough money on beauty products to pay for five years of college. Media affects body image poorly, as we are at the peak in history of girls having eating disorders, depression, and self destructive behavior.
Women shouldnt be harmed by what could help. Across magazine covers and through social media scrolls, media that supports all women could have a significance on how women are viewed and how they view themselves. How women are shown in reality TV, womens role in media, and how body image is affected by media shows how much it has a negative influence on women. Together, people can fight the stereotypes and standards and bring down the media that hurts women.