These days, because we are exposed to vast amounts of media, and have a multitude of ways to access it, we have become demanding and picky, deciding what we want to see and when we want to see it. Because we can now choose which shows we want to watch, what magazines to subscribe to, and what commercials to fast forward through, companies are forced to use new tactics to differentiate themselves. They create eye-catching and shocking images to help capture the consumer’s attention and the most lucrative method, is through the well-known phenomenon, sex sells.

The media knows exactly whom they are targeting and exactly how to get the message across.  They know how to appeal to a women and how to appeal to a man. They prey on women’s insecurities and men’s desire for power.  When you look at advertisements today, the messages that companies are sending to potential buyers is very clear—they are telling women how they’re supposed to look, how they’re supposed to act and what they’re supposed to wear. Through ads, magazines, movies, etc. the media has created a world where the “ideal look” is comprised of flawless white women, with a perfect face and figure.  We do not see women who are average looking, overweight, poor, disabled or struggling[1].

When we see an add, the gorgeous woman modeling seems to be saying, without words, “Hey, look how pretty and happy I am! You could be like me too!  Just buy this mascara!” We see these beautiful people and get a glimpse of their perfect lives, and we instantly envy them.  This is exactly how the companies in the cosmetic industries want us to react. Companies are making money by selling women on the idea that it is possible to be as beautiful and successful and skinny as the girl in the ad who is thinner than 98% of American women, and photo shopped to perfection[2].  This tactic used is not only unfair and misleading, but dangerous

Not only are more and more woman tricked into fueling this negative cycle of objectification, but there are more woman than ever who do not think they are beautiful, who are getting cosmetic surgery, and are suffering from eating disorders[3]. It is estimated that 80% of women and girls are not happy with their appearance, 7 suffer from eating disorders, and 40 billion dollars are spent on diet related products a year–trying to become the ‘women’ that they believe the world expects them to be[4].

Unfortunately, it is not just within ads for makeup where we see women, but we also see women in ads directed at men.  In these cases, these ads show women being objectified, using their body parts as a way to tell men, “Here—if you buy this product, you will get lucky tonight!’

 

 

By objectifying women, the media is encouraging men to think of women only in terms of their sexuality.  “When you objectify someone you turn them into an object, you take away their humanity.” (Noreen Rahman)  And turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person.   Today, it has become normal in our society for advertisements not only to objectify women, but to display these women in harmful situations.

 

“Say you have a commercial that shows aggression or actual violence towards a woman, all that is doing to your influential audience is creating in their minds that this is okay.” (Jeff Lindberg, domestic violence expert)  “I’ve been involved with over 1000 domestic violence cases, and there is no treatment that we know of today, to take someone that is abusing women and using power to control women and have them magically stop that behavior.” (Jeff Lindberg)

While not everyone who engages in violent and objectifying media will abuse and objectify women, every exposure to violence increases the chances that some day a child or a person will behave more violently than they otherwise would.

How do we undo those tears and pain, un-brainwash the members of society, and reverse all the negative impact? We cant.  For generations people have been exposed to media, which exploits and objectifies women and our culture has allowed this media to shape the way they women are viewed. But hope lies in those who haven’t yet been affected, the youngest generation, who has yet to be exposed to the harmfulness of the media. The change starts with them.

[1] “The Myriad: Undergraduate Academic Journal.” Westminster College: A Private Comprehensive Liberal Arts College in Salt Lake City, UT, Offering Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Liberal Arts and Professional Programs, including Business,

[2] Katz, Nikki. “Body Image Statistics.” – Women and Body Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2013. <http://www.personal.psu.edu/cap5202/blogs/women_and_body_image/about/&gt;.

[3] “Teen Health and the Media.” Teen Health and the Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2013. <http://depts.washington.edu/thmedia/view.cgi?section=bodyimage&gt;.

[4] “Technology and Media.” Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <http://www.parentfurther.com/technology-media/facts/facts_mediaeffect.shtml&gt;.

 

 

People used in interview:

Rahman, Noreen. Girls Incorporated of Orange County. Personal Interview.

Lindberg, Jeff.  San Francisco Police, recognized as a Subject Matter Expert in Domestic Violence by the California Department of Justice. Personal Interview.

 

 

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