The media can either be a tool of construction and education, or it can be a tool for destruction. The documentary Miss Representation outlines all of the different ways the media can destroy the way we see ourselves, other women, and the way men see women. The first thing we talk about when we see a woman in the media is what she looks like. We talk about beautiful celebrities, celebrities that look too old, or look like they have had plastic surgery. The documentary has several news clips of of women and men talking about other woman saying things such as “looking haggard and 92 years old” and asking “breast implants, did you have them or not? Because that’s all over the media”. Both of these comments were made by women, about two different women in politics. Instead of talking about politics, opinions, or ideas, they were talking about the way that they looked.
This picture was in an article a while ago, but it shouldn’t be dismissed. The media is so distracted by what women look like and their bodies, that instead of talking about Klum saving her son and nanny, they draw attention to the fact that her nipple popped out.
Media obsessing with women’s bodies is capitalism. I’ve wrote about this before, about how we fall into the trap of advertising. The media only shows beautiful women as skinny, and with a lot of makeup on. Majority of the time these models in advertisements are photo shopped as well, setting even more unrealistic body expectations. “Sex sells”, but it sells at a cost. The cost is the dangerous influence it has on the minds of the youth. The reason advertisers get away with this is because as a society we let them. The more we educate about the dangers of the media then it can start changing. If everyone keeps quiet and just believes that it is what it is, it will never change and unhealthy body images, disordered eating, and identity issues will never go away. By purchasing these types of products that promote the exploitation of women we are enablers.
The media isn’t a safe place for men either. The media makes men feel like they need to be powerful, and in order for them to do that they need to fall to misogyny and treat women poorly. In order to be masculine they need to assert their dominance over women. This is what is shown in TV and movies all the time. The powerful man is the sexy man, like Christian Grey; a truly disgusting representation of a men asserting dominance to get what he wants.
In Miss Representation Marie Wilson, the founding president of The White House Project says, “you can’t be what you can’t see”. There aren’t enough women of power shown on TV. When young girls don’t see women in leadership on television they don’t realize that that’s something that they can do. Girls see movies that feature a strong female role either politically, athletically, or intellectually, and they have a new role model, someone that they can strive to be like. When children can’t see someone that looks like them do something, then they don’t know it can be done.
The media can be an instrument of change. Instead of letting it destroy the images of women and self-identity, lets use it to awaken society. Open minds to a changing world, and the future of women in leadership.