Young Women In Media Today

“Young Women in Media Today”

Breanna Westby

Popular Culture: Looking In The Mirror Essay

June 1st 2014

   Within society today young women are constantly being objectified and being made to appear as sexual objects to please men. As a young woman I have grown up with people and advertisements saying how important it is for a woman to be beautiful and that I need to change in order to gain a man’s attention. Although women have made progress with getting away from the stereotype of being objects of pleasure, it has not yet disappeared in society today. Women are still displayed and believe to have large breasts, flawless skin, and big butts.

More than anything in the advertising world today women are seen with large revealing breasts. This is seen within Mark Waters’ movie, Mean Girls (2004), when the main antagonists of the movie are three young teenage girls with perfect figures and huge boobs. The movie shows these women wearing shirts that show off their chests and goes as far as to have the character, Karen Smith grab her own breasts and say that her breasts can tell when it is raining. By showing these women with ideal figures it is getting back to what Jean Kilbourne expressed in her video, Killing Us Softly 3 (Kilbourne, 1999), she says“…breasts are used to sell absolutely everything,” this is shown well when Olive from the movie, Easy A (2010), changes her look after lying about sleeping with a man over the weekend. By showing or making beasts seem larger it causes young women to believe this is how a woman is supposed to look. Growing up I saw millions of shows and movies of girls my age that show women in these views, it caused me to think that just because I was not as big chested as those girls then I was not pretty. When Olive from Easy A (2010), changes her tank tops for corsets that show more of her breasts she is suddenly surrounded by males who are interested in her service. For me a situation like that happened in high school in senior year when I decided that I wanted to wear brighter colors and started to wear dresses and skirts to school. I was getting attention for the first time from males just because I had changed what I wore and this caused me to think that the only reason a guy would like me is because I had big breasts. In reality, men don’t notice a woman unless there is a part of their body showing from behind their clothing, women with no cleavage is not as attractive as those that do have some in the minds of men today. Although breasts are used as selling points, showing women are sexual beings it is not the only aspect of a woman’s body that is used to objectify women.

emma-stone-easy-a1

Selling that women are objects or in some cases plastic, women are shown with idealized figures. Real young women are still assaulted with acne and other skin ailments in everyday life, except for television and the movies. Men are made to believe that a woman is only beautiful if she has flawless skin, no pimples, red marks or hairs anywhere on her face. The highly watched and loved show, Grey’s Anatomy (Rhimes, 2005), has three main characters in the beginning of their show, Christina Yang, Meredith Grey and Izzy Stevens, all of which have clean slick skin and not a blemish in sight. Their arms, legs, faces and stomachs are all in shape and unmarked by things such as hair of pimples. These women are not a realistic portrayal of how real women are, for a young woman such as me it is difficult to not have hair or pimples anywhere on my body. To this day I am still not seen as attractive because I have pimples, hair on my arms and am not skinny; this makes me believe that men are shallow and cruel. This is not true for some males that have approached me however, but now days it seems the unattractive girls of today do not stand a good chance in gaining the attention of young men. The women on Grey’s Anatomy (Rhimes, 2005), never appear with hairy legs or a zit on their cheek, which women in the real world have to deal with every day. In reality women have to go through the time consuming task of removing these imperfections on a normal basis because that is what society has been drilling into our heads since day one of being female. In high school no man would ask a girl out because she had acne, or she was not skinny enough, they never got the chance to get to know the woman underneath the surface. If a woman is seen with imperfect bodies then they are looked down upon and are made to believe that it is a failure on their part. The front of the body however is not the only thing that males today expect to be large.

Just as breasts are expected to be huge to the point of pain, so are women’s rear-ends. Butts are shown curved, big and attached to a slim waist; to men this is attractive and sexy. If a woman has a small butt or if it is hidden by a slight amount of back fat than that woman is not beautiful or desirable because they are not what they have seen on television today. An example of this is in Will Gluck’s movie, Easy A (2010), when Olive is over by the lockers and we see the side view of a young woman’s butt not even nine minutes into the film. The rear is round, plump and is still the main focus in the scene even with Olivia still in the background. Another part where the butt is idealized in this movie is when Olive’s best friend is wearing short shorts; the shorts leave little to the imagination and cling to her like a second skin. This is seen in modern day, especially in high schools and colleges. This just goes to show how women’s bodies are not respected in society, for a couple years ago it was not uncommon for women to have men grab their rear-ends in the hallways of Centennial High School. A friend of mine had her butt grabbed and another had a man reject her because she was ‘fat’. Women have learned that they need to show off what they have if they want to attract a person of the opposite gender and it is causing good decent women to believe that they need to use their intimate body parts to get a man. They also are made to think that they need to be so skinny that it starts to affect their health, and if they are unable to be skinny then it is a failure on their part. To this day people are telling my friends and I that we need to lose some weight and if we don’t then it will be unlikely that a man will find us attractive. As a woman of this day and age it is degrading and humiliating thinking that the only way to attract a guy is to basically sell your body instead of having a guy find you attractive because of your personality and smile.

By getting to know and deciphering these artifacts I was able to see that my idea of ways to attract a man and my idea of sexy came from television and experiences that taught me that a woman had to be a certain way. Now however, I see that media and people today are trying to intimidate young women and are degrading us so that we feel ashamed of our bodies. Women are still seen as objects of sexual pleasure and as a means to an end, but there is still hope out there for future generations to teach men that there is more to a woman than just big boobs, Barbie figure bodies and big butts. For me though, I am confident with my body and my morals of what is right and what is an insult to women. Hopefully in the future, women will be seen as the intellectual beings that they are and come out of the shadows of what is thought of to be ideal.

Citation Page:

Gluck, W. (Director). (2010). Easy A [teencomedy]. United States: California, Screen Gems.

Waters, M. (Director). (2004). Mean Girls [teencomedy]. United States: Canada, Paramount Pictures.

A hard da’ys night [Television series episode]. (2005). In Rhimes, S. (Executive Producer), Grey. California: ABC. Retrieved from http://abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy

Kilbourne, J. (Performer) (1999). Killing us softly 3 [Web].

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About Aqua2882

I am a graphic design student at Portland State University and I was a student leader for Outdoor School for 6 weeks when I was in high school where my name was Aqua. I also write fiction stories in my free time.

2 thoughts on “Young Women In Media Today

  1. Breanna:
    Interesting paper. Did you find any information regarding why media portrays women in this way? In several advertisement classes I have taken, unfortunately one rule that never seems to die is that “sex sells.” Sometimes I think it may not be as black and white as it appears, for example, in the movie easy A the ultimate goal is for Olive to find out that men like her because of her personality and not necessarily because of her body. She gains her boyfriend despite the rumors that are being spread around about her in her school. Hopefully media will someday change and show that all people not just women are beautiful.

  2. Breanna, I really like your chosen subject! I feel like as a women today I am always questioned by men as to if I really am a college student and over achiever. I work very hard to have knowledge and an education, but am always ‘appealing’ to men for my looks, and I feel like the media has a huge role in encouraging this. I think all media does this, but in my opinion advertisements are the absolute worst! They try and appeal to men using women as sex objects and make them seem stupid and hot, why this is appealing to men I have no clue. My daughter is only seven and worries about if others will think she is fat or pretty. I am always dumbfounded when she comes home asking these questions, how do such young girls know these things? I swear the things they hear and see in the media are influencing them to know things about women and accept stereotypes as real.

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