Women’s role in modern society is indisputably more expansive than that of previous eras. But is it really? Have our new freedoms spawned new dilemmas?
There is, in reality, a massive problem challenging our equality—the media. Our identities and expectations for ourselves are determined by the media.
Only two years ago, the Huffington Post brought to light a life-sized Barbie to illustrate how impossible her body proportions would be if she were real. Her B.M.I. would be 16.24. A ‘normal weight’ B.M.I. would be 18.5 to 24.9—Barbie would therefore fit the weight criteria for “anorexic,” or extremely underweight. According to the Huffington Post, two Barbie dolls are sold every second in the world. Many students in the seminar speculated about what negative effects such images can have on young girls.
The responsibility for distorting girls’ conceptions of themselves does not rest alone on dolls. It seems, in the current world, to be a collaborative effort by the music and fashion industries—not to leave out the craft cosmetic companies! Their incomes depend entirely on convincing women that they are insufficient and that their product is the Holy Grail: an ultimate solution to whatever cosmetic problem arises. Sometimes we become blind to the messages that are constantly being given to us because it becomes the “norm.”
A study done by the Kaiser Foundation discovered unsurprisingly that, of all female characters in movies, 58% have comments made during the movie regarding their appearances. Every second our society becomes increasingly enraptured with beauty—exalting it to a status it never deserved. It seems other “positive” traits are no longer as relevant.
The other dilemma in the media is the prevalence of retouching. Is it not enough that models and celebrities are almost always above average in attractiveness— or at least according to some? It was only this December that Ashley Benson—one of the stars of Pretty Little Liars—wrote on Instagram after seeing a poster for her show:
“Saw this floating around….hope it’s not the poster. Our faces in this were from 4 years ago…..and we all look ridiculous. Way too much photo shop. We all have flaws. No one looks like this. It’s not attractive.”
What does it mean for all of us if even the very beautiful are constantly edited and “reborn” as artificial creations on the glossy pages of a magazine?
We should, for the most part, ignore the media in this respect. It is impossible for us to be born with flawless genes and the faces of artificial goddesses. If we looked like that, we might be “perfect,” but we wouldn’t be human.
Featured Image: Bright and beautiful? Photographer: Rosemary Pastron ‘16