The On-screen Version of Female College Students

It is very easy to become overwhelmed by information and messages we receive through the media. In our society today, we rely on social media as if we cannot live without it. We wake up in the morning and the first thing we turn to is our cell phones or computers hoping to find some juicy information on the events that took place while we were sleeping. Whether it is something to do with our friends or an event that made the front page of the news, we thrive off of the media. Some stories we come across are true and others are altered to make the story more interesting or to get more publicity. That is where the problem starts. Advertising and the media put images and stories into our heads that are so far from true we start to believe them. Images are put into our heads of what the perfect girl is suppose to look and act like, or what we need to eat to be skinny and fit in. In my research, I have found that advertising and media has altered our perspective of what kind of people female college students are and how they act; this is a case where a negative image has been implanted in our heads.

One very interesting article I came across was “Girl Revolt” by Micah White at Adbusters. This articles purpose is to inform people that advertising constrains the horizon of female aspirations, gendering their dreams before they’re hatched. Constraining the horizon of female aspirations? Some wonder what this means and if it is even true. Advertising does in fact constrain the horizon of female aspirations by creating picture perfect females that we see in ads and in commercials everyday. Starting at such a young age, us girls are thrown into a world of chaos and expectations. Gendering our dreams before we are even hatched shows how much society has an impact on the expectations of females. This article informs people November of 2010 that girls revolted in hopes to break the chains of advertising, overthrow the patriarchy of consumerism, and blockade the libidinal economy. Anyone can talk about how they will try to do something about the expected attitude and demeanor females are suppose to have but it takes real courage to take a stand to try and change that perspective. This all ties back to advertising and the vicious approach it has on people in society; especially females. We are targeted at such a young age that it is difficult to break the chains, meaning thoughts and expectations that advertising has shown how females are suppose to be. Two interesting words that were mentioned in this article are weak and vulnerable. You would think, hearing these words that they are bad and females would not want to be categorized in them. Well, that is wrong. Advertising and society has put so many outrageous and negative images in our brains that weak and vulnerable are being held as “sexy” and women are seen to be “easy.” No female wants to be known as weak or vulnerable but advertising has altered those words and actions to be viewed as something sexy.

Legally Blonde is a movie about a sorority queen that gets dumped by her boyfriend, and then decides to follow him to law school to get him back and, once there, learns she has more legal savvy than she ever imagined. Its purpose is to show that “girly girls” can be just as smart as men and can be successful even when doubted. With as much advertising that goes on around us, especially business or political advertising, we seldom see females being the center of attention. Usually females are the center of attention when there is something wrong going on or there is a commercial bashing on females by having them dress in skimpy clothes to show its viewers that eating a big mac can be sexy and it essentially worth it. This movie is the perfect example of how other view female college students. Advertising portrays females as non-intelligent or easy every single day. There are millions of commercials and ads that due so. In Legally Blonde, it shows that it takes courage and determination to make something of you, even when no one believes that is remotely possible. No one believed that some sorority queen that was worried about fashion and getting her nails done would prove everyone wrong and become a successful lawyer. Using Legally Blonde as a source has shown me the stereotypical views of female college students, which can be broken when no one thought it, was possible.

My third primary source I found to be interesting is the TV show Modern Family. Modern family is a TV sitcom about three families they give us an honest and often-hilarious look into the sometimes warm sometimes twisted embrace of the modern family. It also says shows the trials and issues they overcome as one big happy family. Each of the three families is very different in their own way but they prove to always be there for one another no matter what. Modern family is a show that has its own twists and turns on your average every day life of a modern family. The reason I chose this, as a source was to analyze the oldest daughter Hayley going off to college. Following the show, I thought it would perfect knowing the background information of her and her transition to college. Before entering college, females already have an imbedded reputation of being “easy” and “dumb” due to society and it’s advertising. In Hayley’s first year of college she gets kicked out for too much partying and assault on a police officer. Aside from Haley, the younger sister Alex is smart, awkward, and considered “unattractive”. It shows how in media, girls cannot be both; they have to be one or the other which is very inaccurate. This backs up the notion that female college students do not have what it takes to survive and be successful in college because that is what advertising has portrayed us to be. Modern Family is a great example in showing the damage advertising has done in showing everyone what female’s act like and what they are good for.

When researching possible articles for my secondary source I decided to venture out a little and choose an article that would catch people’s attention. The article I came upon “Perceptions of Female Pornography Stars” did just that by capturing my attention. I thought this would be a very interesting and controversial topic to relate all of my findings to. One thing that stood out to me in this article is when they are talking about stereotyping pornography stars and it is said that we apply social labels and also justify political stands. While this is true towards female pornography stars, it is also true towards all women. We do apply social labels based on what we hear about others and what we see in advertising. I agree with this article, that yes, we have an embedded outlook on what kind of people female pornography stars are due to the reasoning advertising has portrayed them to be. The article says, “Those who believe that pornography is harmless, and that those who act in it do so voluntarily, rely on anecdotal evidence to support their position” supporting the notion that anecdotal evidence is only evidence that has been drilled into our minds. This evidence is not so much facts, but opinions and assumed roles we have been seeing our whole lives through the media and advertising. “Perceptions of Female Pornography Stars” backs up my argument that advertising and the media are negative components of our society because they both put assumptions in our head that people, mostly females, are vulnerable.

In conclusion, I would say I have found advertising to be a major bash of female college students. For years now, advertisements have been filling our heads on what females are supposed to act and look like. If females are not acting or dressing like we see they are suppose to, we are confused and judgmental. It is very sad that we cannot accept women for who they are. My sources, such as Modern Family, show that there can be two types of females, which in a sense can be good or bad. Society has portrayed females to be dumb, such as my source Legally Blonde, that want to party all the time and not focus on school, which is completely wrong. I am not saying there are not any females like that because trust me there are, but not all female college students are like that. There are many successful students that go on to do huge things in life and go on to break that stereotype of female college students. I hope that one day, advertising will stop showing what females are supposed to look and act like and show the real side, which is starting to happen like “Girl Revolt.” The side that wants to prove people wrong and break all of the stereotypes advertising has created.
















White, Michah. “Girl Revolt.” Adbusters. 1 Nov. 2010. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

Legally Blonde. Perf. Reese Witherspoon. 2001. Film.

Modern Family. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2010. Film.

Polk, Roselyn, and Gloria Cowan. “Perceptions of Female Pornography Stars.” Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 5.3 (1996): 221. Print.



2 thoughts on “The On-screen Version of Female College Students

  1. treeves3,
    I really loved the identity you chose to write about because I can totally relate. When I was a freshman in Montana last year at one of our biggest Universities, I had all these expectations on how I was supposed to act in college. Once the year progressed, I realized I was not that type of college student that goes out and parties all the time on the weekend or even during the week. I also am not the type to go to frat parties and throw myself onto guys like a lot of movies portray girls to do in college. As a freshman, this was hard to come to grips with because while everyone was out doing those things, I wasn’t. This made it hard on me because I felt like I was doing something wrong or not “experiencing college” how you should be. Now I realize it does not matter if I don’t take that approach to college because this is my own life and not the media’s to try to tell me how I should act in college! As for you essay, you had great sources and expanded on your ideas very well. I enjoyed reading your commentary and glad you chose this topic because I feel it is one that a lot of people struggle with! Great work!

    • Haley,
      Thank you very much! I was in the same boat last year. I attended the University of Oregon and it just was not the school for me. All everyone did was party and the media did a good job of preparing me because partying was not all I wanted to do. I completely agree with what you said about not experiencing college and I heard that from a lot of people. Sorry that I do not want to party 24/7 and that I actually care about my education lol. I ended up leaving because I needed to be in a different atmosphere that did not revolve around partying which is what the media showed me.

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