EFFECTS OF MEDIA ON WOMEN
Mass media have created unrealistic expectations of women and have portrayed female sexuality in an unhealthy manner. The average woman in the media is misrepresented, and this is unhealthy for many women. Studies have reported that women end up feeling worse about themselves after looking at materials in the media portraying bad sexuality. In spite of the fact that a person is free to see or hear anything, the presentation sexuality by media has contributed to women having eating disorders, depression, low self esteem and being dissatisfied with their bodies. This information is found in television shows, magazines, videos and many other media sources. The media misrepresents the average woman, and this has a negative impact to women. Looking at the movie industry, the majority of the movie stars are fashion models, actresses and singers with ‘perfect body shapes and size’. This is seen as a representation of how a modern woman should look like or act. Greenberg and Bruess (2011) in a study on 80 sampled “teen sampled” games shows that, 46% of the games portray women in a sexual manner. The study depicts that the female character is highly sexualized, which is common in video games. a female character is taken to be a prostitute and a target for the male hero. In most cases, the effects of media on women is harmful. There have been an increasing number of cosmetic surgeries, disorders in eating, and death related effects. This is attributed to the bad presentation of women by the media. The media defines perfection according to modern women rather the male counterparts (McGregor, 2008).
The Physical Effects
The American Society of plastic Surgeons (asps, 2009) has reported the following complications in women from 2000 to 2009:
Argumentation surgery of breast -36% increase
Abdominoplasty- 84% increase
Lifts of the lower body – 4,1845% increase
Arm lifts- 4,191% increase
Buttock lifts- 132%
Breast lifts- 65% increase
The ASPS did not report any increase in cosmetic procedures that failed to lift or remove certain areas in a woman’s body that are padded naturally. All surgical procedures decreased in frequency except the above listed and reduction of breasts in men and pectoral implants. In addition to this, high percentage of cosmetic surgery being performed on women (91%). There are also disturbing reports of women with disorders in eating. The National Eating Disorders Association (2005) reported that 10 million American women are suffering from the eating disorders- anorexia and bulimia nervosa and where they are left untreated. There is a 20% mortality rate for severe cases (National Eating Disorders Association, 2005). These women are finding themselves in such uncompromising states of dissatisfaction as the internet overuse and other media sources that show people losing large portions of their weight by taking pills and music videos that show women wearing “bikinis”. These women are seen as sexy and encourage the modern women want to “look good”. This is what inspires women to go through surgery and as a result, women experience eating disorders (Chrisler & McCreary, 2010). Greenberg and Bruess (2011) while studying the various types of ideologies present in magazines discovered that, the media sets up standards to be followed by women. Thus, the women have behavior that is obtained from the instructions on how to dress, how to wear make up and how their body should look like.
The different instructions that the magazine displays show the different interests and the widespread views of female behavior that are acceptable and non-acceptable. The woman displays a world that is static in which she is warned against negative implications of moving away from sex roles of femininity (Andersen & Taylor, 2008).
The Cognitive Effects
In a study done by Andersen andTaylor (2008), they show that women do not like fat bodies and they cognitively process the information as fearful. This woman had been seen to be true to their body’s live images, and they displayed patterns in the brain that were highly activated when looking and trying to understand their body image. This showed that women use their emotions to process their body image In another study done by Sparks (2010), comparing one’s body shape with media images was a source of dissatisfaction of the body. Emotional and impulsive responses can result to negative physical and mental responses and lead to emotions, for example, depression (Kurosaki et al. 2006). Kara L. Kerr, in a Priscilla Papers article focusing on the girl’s depression and body image observed the increasing concern in negative body image of women in the modern society. As the girls move through puberty, they experience body changes including gain of the adipose tissue hence moving away from the women’s thin ideal. The fashion magazines show the modern ideal body for women as thin, childlike and asexual. This information makes the girls feel dissatisfied with their bodies and they strive to achieve the ideal bodies as seen in the magazines. The western culture, in addition to being thin promotes, women’s objectification. This encourages them to take their bodies on an observer’s view. Other studies revealed how far this objectification has gone by showing that only reading words involving the physical appearance of the body induced the women to have self-objectification. These women showed significantly greater levels of appearance anxiety and body shame as compared to men. Social Effects
Women’s objectification also leads to a state of fear and shame and at the same time promotes their treatment as inhuman. Women sexual exploitation dominates the media making it impossible to avoid since these advertisements are always present in the media industry. Thin and almost naked bodies of women appear in billboards, magazines and are stuck on buses. These shots are also everywhere in computers and television shows. This mechanism of advertisers is used to grab the attention of customers to the product on sale and stimulate the desire to acquire the product. For example in a beer ad, buy the beer and get the woman. Women’s bodies in this case are equated with commodities which are given as a reward of consuming the product on sale. Men in such a case regard the body of a woman as an object and the ad help create an atmosphere that leads to a woman being devalued as a person and encourages sexual harassment even worse (Lau, 2007). This perception and exploitation have changed the society rules and also changed the attitudes of women and men. It does not matter whether these images destroy the cultural environment, but they obviously change it. For instance, it is okay for women to have many sexual partners and people are capable of doing anything if they can sell their sexiness. Conclusion
The media implications on women are more negative than positive. The effects are more on their body image and self identification. Many women in the modern world are finding themselves in difficult situations that include depression, low self esteem, eating disorders and harassment or sexual assault. Despite the emotional, physical, spiritual and cognitive implications in the race to achieve idealized beauty, the women are still chasing it. Failure to achieve this leads to dissatisfaction and the woman is unable to find peace. Women do have to see themselves as inferior compared to what they see on media ads. What they need to do is be contented with their bodies and feel appropriate. They need to understand that they are all different in their own ways, and those who seem perfect in the pictures have their own flaws here and there. In this way, the media will not have a lasting effect on society. This will also work towards making a society where women can walk down the streets safely without fearing assault and can look in the mirror without having negative mental and physical feelings. This can only begin internally and hopefully affect the external environment.
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