Women and Media

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Media and television, in particular, has always been one of the major, most direct factors in shaping people’s behaviour, attitude and perception whether we notice it or not. Regardless of age, gender or lifestyle, each and every one of us is affected by media to a certain extent. Of course the type of media that attracts each segment of society depends on age group, gender and lifestyle. However the degree of effect differs from one person to another. At the end of the day, we are all exposed to a huge amount of messages which affect our thoughts, opinions and how we perceive the surrounding world. They define the way we interpret all the surrounding happenings. Sometimes these messages are direct like what we encounter in advertising, which encourage us to buy a certain product or create some kind of image around this product. Some other messages are indirect, even subliminal and these are worth our attention as continuous exposure to them may have negative effects on us and on our society. One of the clear examples of the latter is how women are portrayed in media.

The way females are objectified in media dehumanizes them and results in acquiring gender inequality. Yet if it causes more attraction to the message, it results in negative psychological effects on females and society that far out weigh the short term profits.

Talking about these messages’ negative effect on females themselves, we find that women being bombarded with the same messages regularly and continuously viewing how they are portrayed in media a serious issue. Women always see they are portrayed as sex or entertaining objects which unconsciously cause dissatisfaction with the way they look. In an article in the BBC news it was said that continuously seeing females being objectified in media “can lead to a lack of confidence with their bodies as well as depression and eating disorders”. They can suffer eating disorders like anorexia, emotional eating and bulimia. This kind of women’s portrayal is referred to as sexualisation which is defined in the very same article as “occurring when a person’s value comes only from her or his sexual appeal or behaviour, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is portrayed purely as a sex object”. Unfortunately that is what media has been communicating lately about women. It pisses me off when I see how cheap women are represented in media; by media here I mean songs’ channels, magazines and some movies. Sexualisation is becoming the core thought of media nowadays. All messages revolve around the fact that being sexy and beautiful is the only thing upon which women is evaluated and assessed. Women are to prove competence with their appearance only. The latter leads us to another bigger problem which is that media messages set new criteria for beauty and fashion which female youth has to abide by in order to be in the same boat that all other “style” females are to go through even if not realistic or practical . Now for a female to look attractive or sexy she has to be similar to these media characters no matter what it takes. These media female characters were not only satisfied by changing their features but they also used plastic surgeries to adjust their body measurements to ideal ones that scientifically can never be achieved with out surgery interference. As a result the concept of beauty has changed dramatically in the last couple of years and elevated to a very high “artificial level”, same old beauty concepts that were applicable a couple of years ago are no longer there putting any normal female in front on an answered complex situation where she can hardily be put in the same category of today’s attractiveness or at least reach it. Most of females experience this media’s effect in one way or another. Some started to rethink where they are standing now compared to the newly appearing set of females. Some already took steps in altering a couple of their physical appearance, some by operations, some by make up, and so on. Statistics show that the number of plastic surgeries in Egypt went from 55 thousand to 130 thousand operations in 2006 only not taking the unlicensed small type of surgeries into consideration. And the ones who didn’t do this or that undergo psychological problems of feeling that they are odd because of their failure to be like all those who are surrounding them in life or those who appear in media. Having all this in mind, females have battles within themselves about whether to follow what they see or to neglect it and if following it is achievable in the first place. Look at key media figures, singers and movie stars and you will get swayed with the enormous amount of sexualisation in them which both portray us as mere sex objects and also has its negative effects on us. In an article titled “mirror mirror” it said that women are more “self critical than men” and this is due to the fact that women are “judged only on their appearance more than men and standards of female beauty are considerably higher and more inflexible”. They are the ones who are always exposed to the images of the “ideal face and figure”. 

Now talking about the society we find that society stereotypes women and enforce the fact that a woman is only evaluated by her look. They also compare the normal ladies with what shows in different media forms. Hence putting females in a certain category and behaving with them accordingly. They set very hard to achieve features and measures for how a good looking female should look like depending on what they see. This takes place unconsciously, without people even taking care that it is happening. Media experts say that continuous exposure to same ideal artificial figures sets the frame where the society wants to view all its females in. society gets convinced that these are the current standards. Anything that does not match the level presented in the media is considered kind of imperfection or ugliness. Even is this is done unintentionally, it causes a kind of gender inequality as it makes society regard women as entertaining sexual objects. I mean that a good woman shall look nice and therefore amuse the society’s senses and peoples’ eyes.

This problem is not one to which we shall be trying to look for a solution, but it is a problem that is worth our attention not the attention to how to follow the images set by media but rather the attention to how should we behave towards it. It is so nice that one enjoys these beautiful stars but we must be clever in choosing when to only watch and when to watch and imitate. Keep in mind that part of these people’s job is to entertain our senses as they are watched and this is quite enough reason to not imitate them in all what they do. Also remember that 90% of today’s media figures don’t look so naturally. They have under gone a hell of plastic surgeries, dress from the best world wide designers; wear a lot of make up. Up and above, their images are altered using computer programs which can play with their body overall dimensions and even the texture of their skin. Women, think about all this when watching them. If these media characters are in a normal working environment, living our everyday life they would never be looking or behaving like this. These people’s asset is their appearance and body. Moreover, looking at life from this “beauty perspective” is a very shallow dim look at life, because life is not about how beautiful one is but about many other things that has nothing to do with physical beauty. "Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart", Khalil Gibran.

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