Editor’s Note: The author, Amy Schneider, is a student in the spring 2011 Women’s Studies Program Feminist Theory course at The University of Akron.
It seems that media has been portraying women as something that is not realistic forever. Flipping through a magazine can be so hurtful to a girl of any age.
The models who are shown are not always white, but generally speaking they are. They have flat stomachs, no stretch marks, no cellulite, perfect skin and a slender body with a perky chest. How many women actually look like this? I’d say not a lot.
Airbrushed beauty isn’t real beauty
When you look at these photos, you really don’t stop and think that it has been airbrushed and changed so many times that the result is not that woman. Young girls look at these magazines and see these women and think, “Wow, they are pretty. I want to look just like that.”
At this age, self esteem isn’t at its highest, and the adolescent years are when people try and fit in and figure out who they are. When they see that society loves women who look pretty and sexy, they will try and imitate that; even women who are older try and look like this because they do not want to seem ugly, and if you are ugly nobody will like you.
The adult magazines and pornography have women looking like Barbie Dolls. Huge, fake boobs, dyed hair, lots of makeup, big asses, tiny waists, and tan skin are some of the things I think of when I see these girls. These women are also portrayed as dumb girls. They are the bobble heads in society with no brains. If you want to be sexy you must be this way. Guys like when girls are this way? That’s what it seems like to women.
Media pressure harmful to young and old
Television shows are incorporating more sexually risky scenes to expand their viewers. Secret Life of the American Teenager is a show that makes it look okay to have sex at 14 and have a baby. Don’t worry everybody else is having sex and having babies too. Girls watching shows like this think well these girls have sex on here and it is cool, so why not just go with the social norm?
Younger and younger girls are starting to have sexual relationships. In schools I work with, I have heard girls in the fourth grade talking about oral sex. ORAL SEX at NINE YEARS OLD!?!? It is happening.
Women are so pressured to lose their virginity and perform oral sex on guys to get them to like them, but it leaves them feeling empty and sad. Most guys are in it for the sex and if you give it up to them for free why would they stick around and actually form a relationship with you?
The pressures women receive from the media create this idea that we are not beautiful the way we are. It turns women against each other because when we do see a woman who is pretty, we immediately think to ourselves how we hate them or we look for flaws. It is because we feel threatened by them. We think that men will choose them over us because of our looks. It leaves women in a constant competition with one another.
Beautiful as we are
We think we must change ourselves to make people like us. For example, since I am 5 foot 3 and weigh 145 lbs., I think that I am overweight and need to lose weight however I can, whether it be through starving myself, puking after I eat, or taking diet pills. And since I am so short, I have to wear heels to make my legs look longer. Since my skin is pale I must tan myself to look sexier. When I have a blemish I will have so many choices in make up to hide my flaws, but how come men don’t have to hide their flaws?
Why is it that when I age and get wrinkled there are hundreds of different anti-wrinkle creams waiting for me? When my hair turns gray, why must I color it? Why can’t gray be beautiful too? Age is something frowned upon. Being young and thin and flawless isn’t all that it’s cracked out to be. Plastic surgery, Botox, teeth whitening, diet pills, hair coloring, calorie counting, how fun does that sound?
Check out these websites to find out more information on how the media affects women: