The Modern College Female
Picture this, you are on your way to class and a college boy approaches you. The aroma wafting off of him causes you to rip your clothes off and throw yourself at him. A typical day in college, right? While most people would agree that this isn’t a plausible scenario in the modern campus life, media is trying to say otherwise. In this essay I will be writing about the identity of the modern college student in popular media. To be more specific I am planning on focusing on the female college students. To do this I am using a tv channel that is directed towards youth; MTV. I will be exploring what different items and content that are directed towards or containing female students. I chose this identity because I feel that media is selling a specific idea to me, as a female student. I’ve used three different artifacts to discover how I personally have been socially constructed by commercials that are supposed to be representing me.
In the Just Dance 2015 commercial, the creators show a series of close ups of girls that look to be between 14-20 years old, dancing with their friends. Over the scenes was a younger female rapping the jingle. The song was telling you about all the different activities that would be possible once you buy their product. Some of the activities included dancing in your college dorm, grabbing your crush and getting a hug, looking hot, karate chop, etc. The creators of the commercial intended to grab the audiences attention by stating random interesting words and switching frames quickly. They re-enforced all of this with certain words placed in bold and all caps in the center of the frame. Although the commercial mentioned college dorms and shows mainly college age females, towards the end it started showing girls at a younger age. From this I think the commercial is not specifically directed towards female college students but to girls in general. The only time boys were involved in any of the shots, they were as minimal or comedic characters. The audience would conclude that this product would make them popular, fun, and the center of attention.
In the 22 Jump Street trailer the creators were selling a distinct image of college. They established the assumption that college life is one giant spring break. That the college campus is a raging party with beautiful, sexually driven females. Different people could interpret the trailer as an accurate description of college life or a over dramatization. Those who believe in that image of college being so carefree and reckless are probably not in college or have never been to college. The first girl is introduced as soon as the main actor enters college and within the next couple frames is shown sleeping with the male actor. That’s when we meet the second girl who is the first girl’s roommate. This girl is awkward and weird wearing a head to toe onesie. After these two girls are introduced it switches to a series of shots showing a large party with multiple female college students wearing bikinis, dancing around together. This is a definite use of trying to sell sex. Although women seemed to have a small role in this movie they are the only ones given screen time other than the two male actors. This move seems to be directed towards males based on that observation. Centering the plot around a couple guys that are surrounded by very attractive females, sells the movie and college life sexually.
In the Axe shower gel commercial, they sell the idea that their product will make you irresistible to women. Their product will be able to give the consumers the ability to control women’s bodies by using this shower gel. People in today’s culture seem to be always searching for new ways to attract a significant other. Though with all the different enhancement products out there it’s an advertisers challenge to make theirs stand out. By occupying this beach with over ten very attractive females and pairing it with an average, lanky guy, it’s capturing your attention. The commercial was able to relate to a more widespread clientele because of this. The purpose of Axe’s commercial is to tell the average 20 something year old guy that these women are out and available and will want you once you use their product. In this commercial the women were not specifically depicted to be in college but the commercial is aimed towards college students. This shows how media is presenting male college students the idea of this perfect party girl that is also represented in 22 Jump Street. At the end of the commercial the male, using the shower gel, realized his affect on the women and tries to get them to take off their bikini tops. Women are used as props in the commercial, as accessories that you gain once you buy the product.
The common theme seen in all three of these commercials is the women aiming to please the men. In the Just Dance 2015 commercial the advertisers told their customers that they would be able to obtain their crush through their product. In the Jump Street 22 trailer women are depicted as sexual objects for the main characters and finally, the Axe shower gel commercials presents women as ideal accessories. In the Axe and Jump Street 22 trailer women are overtly sexualized showing them either in bed or half-naked, in Axe specifically, the women are losing their clothes. This creates a certain body image that corresponds to the 20 something year old college female. The women in the commercials were all tan, thin, fit, with long hair. Even though these advertisements are directed towards men it’s inadvertently directed towards women’s bodies as well. When a girl watches the Axe shower gel commercial they are comparing themselves to all the “desirable” women that are being used to entice the men to purchase the product. There is such a variety of women in the world that many feel out of place when presented with these ideal, thin, beautiful women on advertisements. In the article; Understanding Body Image in Female College Students by Elizabeth Manon, she states “Female college students are at high risk for distorted views of body image. Cultural influences carry the idea of a “thin ideal” that surrounds women from the time they are young girls into adulthood.” Manon performed surveys of women that at the time were attending Geneva College asking them to rank how comfortable they are describing themselves as beautiful on a Likert Scale. 43 percent of them identified in being uncomfortable in describing themselves as beautiful (Manon, 2006, pg. 21). The survey was based off a Dove study done in 2004 were they took the same question to a universal level were only 11 percent felt comfortable describing themselves as such. Though 72 percent of women surveyed in the Dove study felt a heavy pressure to be beautiful (dove.us).
These statistics are troublesome. The three articles previously discussed, show a bit of light to why the percentage of women finding themselves beautiful is so low. The advertisements tell its female audience that beauty comes from satisfying men’s expectations. Expectations of what creates a beautiful, likable, and desirable women and how it’s really all based around a male opinion. While watching MTV, commercials like Axe were common and I felt a majority of the ads were directed towards men. The only commercial that was directed towards a female audience was Just Dance 2015 and it was still male biased. After looking into the commercials more in depth, I didn’t feel properly represented at all on the TV station. A TV station that is directed towards people of my age and younger holds a large influence over the shaping of the younger minds. With the amount of ads that are shown in between shows, this representation of females college students will contribute to a low self-esteem among girls in college.
I personally have felt this struggle of constantly worrying about weight and when rejected feel like my physical beauty had a large part to do with it. With age I have become accepting of the fact that I don’t look like the women in the Axe commercial or like being half-naked like the women in the 22 Jump Street trailer. Once I realized this about myself I gain a new sense of confidence and have since then felt more beautiful. The advertisements that are being aimed toward college students need to change to show women in a more positive light so that young women can gain a stronger acceptance of their body types. Since a young age women have been told how they should look by just picking up a barbie. Modern media should aim to show the variety that’s represented in the world to gain an audience instead of creating a feeling of nonfulfillment for women. In ads they are now representing men in all shapes and forms and they are validated by obtaining these “ideal” women. Instead of using women to establish the respect of men media should show women in the same variety as men, because I believe every shape of women is beautiful.
Dance, Just. “Just Dance 2015 TV Commercial – Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.” YouTube. YouTube, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax8TN1Rxkrg>.
“22 Jump Street International Trailer (2014) Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill HD.” <i>YouTube</i>. YouTube, 6 May 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqBePUi0I04>.
“Axe Commercial – Beach (Shower Gel).” <i>YouTube</i>. YouTube, 15 Sept. 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgl2BE8hgCo>.
“The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty.” <i>The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty</i>. Dove, 1 Jan. 2004. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <http://www.dove.us/Our-Mission/Girls-Self-Esteem/Our-Research/default.aspx>.
Manon, Elizabeth. “Understanding Body Image in Female College Students.” (2006). Print. Genova College.