Women making strides in life but not media representations

Washington D.C. residents and visitors agree that women are portrayed poorly in the media today with attention directed to female bodies and emotions rather than their accomplishments.

Taylor Blowers, 16 and Bina Lee, 16 smile for women's rights in Starbucks. Photo courtesy of Naima Fonrose

Taylor Blowers, 16 and Bina Lee, 16 smile for women’s rights in Starbucks. Photo courtesy of Naima Fonrose

Women are objectified in the media constantly due to stereotypes and unrealistic standards, an issue that has lingered for decades. They are underrepresented and treated differently than men.

“For the most part, women are portrayed very poorly in mainstream media,” said Camilla Duke, 17, from Bethesda. “They’re objectified, they’re put into stereotypical boxes, and their voices are stifled by the male-dominated industry.”

The media’s coverage of women is focused on their appearance. Women’s bodies and appearance are central to their coverage in the public eye.

“There are two main types of women shown in mainstream media: the thin girl, and the fat girl, whose weight is a central part of her character and existence,” Duke said. “It’s uncommon to see anything in between.”

Either way women are looking to the media to see the body standard that society says they should strive for. The media portrays that their personal value is determined by how they look. Women’s bodies are everywhere and are used for marketing and advertising from potato chips to cars to cologne.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5 percent of American females and 69 percent of girls in the 5th to 12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of the perfect body shape.

“Diversifying the pool of women that appears in mainstream media will have a greater impact than many may think,” Duke said. “It’s so much easier to have healthy, positive self image when you can see someone who looks like you in a position where she’s considered beautiful.”

In media women are underrepresented, this can be proven by a test done that rates female representation in movies.

The Bechdel Test has criteria for women in movies. The movie has to have at least two named women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man to pass. The test seems simple but major motion pictures such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Godzilla do not pass the test, Alex Hudome, 17 said.

Some teenagers hope the tide is turning.

Taylor Blowers,16 said, “Women in general are getting a bigger role.”

Many female celebrities are criticized for doing the same thing men do such as singing songs about their romantic experiences. One prominent example is Taylor Swift.

“No one makes fun of Bruno Mars for writing love songs or tells Ed Sheeran’s girlfriends to “watch out, he’ll write a song about you,” Hudome said. “Taylor Swift’s dating life is a more heavily discussed topic than her successes and achievements, and there’s something very wrong with that.

The media’s representation of women is poor and unbalanced.

“It’s always about what women are wearing, how young or old they look, who they’ve slept with, and what they look like, rather than their talent, awards, achievements, and their creative and/or professional work,” Hudome said.