Look good in ALL you do?
by purplepanda123 on February 24, 2017 - 6:57pm
The media has grown enormously over the past 10 years. Tv shows, the news, movies, newspapers, social media sites and ads are all used to entertain, inform and stay connected with people across the globe. For the most part this is perceived in a good light. There is, however, a flip side to this. In the media today, there is an increasing amount of objectification and sexism towards women for heterosexual men to consume. Ads which portray that women are simply things who do not harbour any feelings, desires, or preferences, and men, a subject who “desires, looks and owns” (Wade, Sharp 166). An ad by Fluid hair salon in Edmonton, Alberta shows a woman with a black eye who has clearly been beaten, receiving a diamond necklace from her boyfriend/husband. The slogan says “Look good in all you do.” This trivializes domestic violence, basically stating that it is okay to beat women or be beaten, as long as they look good while it is happening. This is an example of how the media portrays women, how women perceive themselves and how they are perceived by the rest of society.
The Fluid ad reinforces the gendered messages broadcasted to the public. The significance of the beaten lady’s partner holding a necklace conveys the message that men can do what they will with women because they can easily be appeased or “bought” with jewelry or nice things. This is a clear representation of how the media objectifies of women, how feelings and desires are only assigned to male figures who conform to an unachievable “man box.” It also give us the message that beauty is assigned to females solely for male purposes. Women have to be beautiful for men to want them which is why they are constantly trying to improve their physical attractiveness. A vast amount of television shows or movies portray an average looking guy paired up with really a beautiful girl, for example Penny and Leonard from The Big Bang Theory. A study in an article called “Selling Sex,” by Lisa Wade and Gwen Sharp, states that “Since it is men’s sexual desires that are made salient, her attractiveness to him is unimportant.” (Wade, Sharp 168) Therefore women must be attractive to men, however it should not matter if men are attractive to a woman. It is therefore impressed upon girls that the most important thing about them is how they look and that their value depends on that. Lastly this ad shows how beauty is often measured; Skinny, a pretty face, and short/revealing clothing.
We should be very concerned about how women are portrayed in the media because in our society, a vast amount of people are constantly connected to it. Just being in contact with some form of media, such as television, youtube or any social sites take up a big part of our everyday lives. It is well known that people learn from what they see, that we conform and listen to people in authority/influential positions. This means that we learn more from the media than any other source of information. What is shown in the media is so important because according to Jim Steyer, common sense media lawyer and professional civil rights, Stanford University, “they’re giving content that is shaping our society [...] and most of all they’re shaping our children's brains, lives and emotions.” (Jim Steyer, Miss Representation). This means that what we see in the media is how we tend to shape our perspective of the world, and where we see ourselves in it. Because of these gendered, objectifying ways of portraying women in the media, girls very early on in life get the message that their value is dependent on how they look no matter how many other achievements they have done, and boys get the message that this is what is most important (Jean Kilborn, Miss Representation). The media is “so limiting and derogatory to the most powerful women in the country” says Jennifer Pozner. She is referring to women in the United States such such as Hillary Clinton, referred to as a “bitch”, Sarah Peylin a "ditz”, and Judge Elena Kagan as “fat” (Jennifer Pozner, Miss Representation). Women are not taken seriously in the media and are often spoken over by men. This teaches them that physicality trumps intellectuality in every circumstance and discourages them to strive for more and to see themselves as more than just “being pretty”.
In order to fix the ad while still selling the product, the ad and the media in general should stop associating a woman's attractiveness with being thin, beautiful and fragile. This would then get rid of power dynamics between men and women, where men are almost always the dominant and the female submissive to them. I would also not paint a black eye on the ad’s model because it makes light of a situation that is not at all funny. Their slogan, “Look good in all you do”, implies that looking good should also apply to when being physically abused. This shows how women are clearly not respected enough in the media for their feelings to matter simply because they are seen as objects who, as I stated before, do not harbour any desires, feelings or preferences.
Overall, the ideal heterosexual male fantasy of a woman’s body in the media is not an accurate representation of reality. Once the media stops portraying this as “normal” then people will be more open to a different ‘type’ of woman, not just a stereotypical blonde, blue eyed, tall, thin woman seen merely as a prize or ‘arm candy’ for men (Wade, Sharp 171). Women would be more respected if they didn’t have to live up to these high beauty standards society has built for them, which clearly always have to be met, even when being beaten. This would cause men and women to have a more “egalitarian relationship” with each other and therefore women would not subject themselves to “just being pretty” but strive for greater achievement, such as political positions in business and in law, places which are mostly male dominated today. Women should no longer be seen or see themselves as objects. A change has to start somewhere and it should start with the media.
Wade, Sharp. "Selling Sex" Westport, CTImages that Injure:
Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media, Praeger, 2011.
Newsom, Jennifer S, Regina K. Scully, Geralyn W. Dreyfous, Sarah E. Johnson,
Jessica Congdon, Eric Holland, Svetlana Cvetko, Caroline Heldman, Condoleezza Rice, Dianne Feinstein, Dolores Huerta, Geena Davis, Gloria Steinem, Jackson Katz, Jane Fonda, Jean Kilbourne, Jennifer L. Pozner, Katie Couric, Lisa Ling, Meenakshi G. Durham, Margaret Cho, Martha M. Lauzen, Nancy Pelosi, Pat Mitchell, Rachel Maddow, and Rosario Dawson. Miss Representation. Sausalito, Calif.: Ro*co Films Educational, 2011.